Marc and Starr Peterson visited KOA campground sites whenever they could when they were living in the suburbs of Chicago, but owning and running one wasn’t in the plan until recently.

The Petersons took over ownership of the KOA campground in Buchanan last August, and have been working to improve and run the site ever since. Marc worked in security management in Chicago and Starr worked as a fifth-grade teacher. They had camped at more than 50 KOA campgrounds before making the decision to run their own.

Starr said while she enjoyed teaching, city suburb life and the corporate grind just wasn’t working for their family.

“He would drive an hour and a half to and from work in traffic, and it was starting to take a toll,” Starr said. “He wasn’t feeling appreciated at work; he would be moved from building to building ... he was getting very frustrated and tired.”

She said Marc made the suggestion one day that they should buy a campground.

“Like I said, we were avid campers,” she said with a smile. “One of our first dates was at a KOA … ever since then, it grew on us to start camping more and more.”

They had talked about owning a campground before, over headsets on a motorcycle trip on their way back home from Cave City, Ky., but when Marc brought up the idea more seriously, Starr wasn’t so sure.

“I was afraid of moving, because my daughter was five at the time. She had just started building a foundation of friends,” Starr said. 

She said she was adaptable and she liked the idea, but it still took some convincing.

Marc is originally from a small town in central Illinois, and Starr hails from a small town in Hawaii. She said they missed that in the city.

Starr said they knew from the beginning that they wanted a campground in Tennessee. They loved the values and lifestyle of the area, and they visited to look at the campground in May 2018.

They bought the campground and have been working hard ever since.

Starr said their very first day on the job, someone broke a waterline and they had to start digging.

Since then, they’ve been adding to and improving the campground, which has been there since 1974. The Petersons have added three patio decks, a big Paris sign at the entrance and an awning on the main building and they’ve totally rearranged the game room. 

They’re also planning to add fences around the children’s area and the tents and to redo their miniature golf course.

Marc said the work isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding.

“I don’t care that I’m working seven days a week,” he said. “I get to be in a cool part of the country, it’s got nice people, it’s wholesome … (moving here) was giving up one unknown for a better unknown.”

The Paris Landing/Kentucky Lake KOA Campground is located at 6290 East Antioch Road. For more information, call 642-6895 or email

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