As part of our summer road trip to Lake Tahoe, we decided to make a quick trip over to Kalispell, Montana on Saturday to check out the Big Sky ACBS Antique & Classic Boat Show on beautiful Flathead Lake, Montana. And as expected, this years boat show was great, with a wide range of classic wooden boats as well as some very cool newer Stan Craft boats. The Flathead Lake area of Montana has a rich history of wooden boats and there’s always a few surprises in store at the boat show, which was the case again this year.
The antique & classic boat show is held in Lakeside, Montana just south of Kalispell at the Waterside Resort & Lakeside Marina.
Matt & I often chuckle about our experiences on the road and what it takes to cover a boat show or related event for Woody Boater, and this weekend was one of those experiences. Our plan to cover the Big Sky show was a last minute decision, as we were kind of in the area, requiring only a 7 hour detour (each way) from our return trip to Lake Tahoe for the Concours later this week. And because it was a last minute decision, we didn’t make any advance hotel reservations in the Kalispell area. Normally this isn’t a big deal as there are tons of hotels & motels in Kalispell and nearby Whitefish, Monatana. However, as we got within a few hours of Kalispell, we started to notice that all of the motels along the road were hanging out their “NO VACANCY” signs. I stopped along the road and thought it might be smart to call ahead to Kalispell and make a last minute reservation. After calling 3 or 4 hotels in Kalispell, we realized that it may be a problem, but it was getting dark and decided to continue along the road.
About 20 miles outside of Kalispell, we stopped in at a small bar / motel which was packed with bikers en route to Sturgis, they informed me that everything within a 120 mile radius of Kalispell was full, and they actually had to travel west (backwards) to find the last rooms in the state. When I finally arrived in Kalispell around 11:30 PM, the rumors were true, nothing available – the Kalispell Hilton parking lot was FULL of motorcycles.
In mid-August over 400,000 bikers converge on Sturgis, South Dakota for the annual biker rally.
Normally in this situation it’s not a big deal, if you are driving a car you either just keep driving or sleep in the car in the Walmart parking lot, but when you are traveling on a motorcycle in northern Montana, it’s smart to avoid riding late at night as the wildlife along the side of the highway (not the bikers, but the four legged animals) can be very dangerous.
By now it’s 1:30 AM, and I notice that there are some fiberglass boats on display in one of the hotel parking lots, including three HUGE pontoon boats with wooden steps for daytime viewing. I have never been on a pontoon boat in my life, but I guess there’s a first time for everything… I pulled the old Harley-Davdison into the hotal paking lot, climbed aboard the pontoon boat with the big Bimini top and leather seats and slept under the stars. Scootched down in the seats to avoid being noticed and woke up at 6:00 AM (freezing cold) by some folks from the hotel looking at the boats.
Now every time I see a giant pontoon boat I’ll remember the night I checked in to the “Pontoon Motel” in Kalispell, Montana trying to cover a wooden boat show!
“Liz” is a very nice 1937 Chris-Craft Deluxe Runabout owned by Bill & Pat Phillips from Kalispell, Montana.
“Placid Punch” is listed as a 1958 Century Resorter 16′ owned by Wally & LaDonna Bell from Helena, Montana. A very interesting boat – if Frank Miklos is tuning in, we would like to learn more about this particular Century which I can’t remember ever seeing before.
Alex and Margene Berry own “Minnie” this classic 1959 Chris-Craft Sea Skiff 22′ – Alex is very much involved in the local Big Sky ACBS Chapter and we would like to say thanks to Alex for all your hard work putting together another successful show this year – Nice Work!
Dave Wickland from Sail Classics was on hand at the Big Sky event with his finished boat models, very nice stuff. They were also selling Christmas Tree decorations of small wooden boats which were fun to see too. They are also moving on to Lake Tahoe for the Concours and then up to the Regional Bpat Show in CDA in a few weeks. You can see their web site by clicking here.
Then fellow Woody Boater Bill Eisenlohr came by to offer to take us for a boat ride aboard his very cool 2004 Fish Borthers 23′ Barrelback, which of course we immediately jumped at. We were joined by Andrew Kerfoot and his wife Sheena. Andrew is a fine young restorer from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho who also builds his own canoes which won the award for Peoples Choice Non-Powerboat. Andrew also helped with the final finish work on “Y.P.” Jerry & Charlene Appel’s imressive 1952 Stan Craft 21’8″ Torpedo.
Jerry & Charlene Appel were on hand with “Y.P.” a remarkable 1952 Stan Craft 21’8″ Torpedo. They just recently completed the restoration on this ultra rare Stan Craft that Jerry found in a field near Circle, Montana 8 years ago.
Here’s Andrew Kerfoot and his wife Sheena with their award winning canoe. Their new boat restoration business in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho is called Wood Boat Endeavor LLC – you can go to his web site by clicking here.
Fellow Woody Boater Michael “Hutch” Hutchinson was there with his wild 1998 Jersey Speed Skiff 16′ “Plum Crazy”, and I was lucky to join Hutch aboard “Plumb Crazy” for a full throttle boat ride. WooHooooo! That was fun! That’s my first time aboard a Jersey Speed Skiff and I was very impressed with how it handled at 60 MPH, and Hutch likes to get the boat up on her side and airborn… Big Fun!
Brad Kious & Johnnie Logan were on hand with their freshly restored 1960 20′ Chris-Craft Sea Skiff. This beautiful boat was just completed (after an 8 year restoration) a few days before the Big Sky show and she is immaculate, and for sale. If you are interested you can call Brad at 559.905.4600 in Big Fork, Montana.
Thnaks to Steve Nichol for hosting the reception on Friday night at Classic Boat Company, it was enjoyed by everyone who attended. There were a total of 54 wood boats in static and on water display, thanks to all the nice folks at the Big Sky Chapter ACBS for your help in putting the show together.
Boat Show Awards and Prizes
Farthest Distance Traveled: Steve and Lisa Schaller, Lake Oswego, OR
Oldest Boat in Operation: “Windchimes” 1902, Jim and Pat Hawley, Bigfork, MT
Most Unusual and Unique: “Vanna Mae”, Denney and Susan Hamilton, Worley, ID
Most Would Love to Own: “Wave Dagger”, Dirk and Kim Vissser, Missoula, MT
Boat Owner’s Awards:
Sailor’s Award: “Georgiann”, Neil and Jean Ganser
Paddler’s Choice: Wooden Nickel”, Bill and Julie Robbins
Skipper’s Choice: Black Hawk”, Steve and Bettina Patyk
People’s Choice Awards:
People’s Choice – Non-Powerboat: Endeavor Canoe, Andrew and Sheena Kerfoot
People’s Choice – Powerboat: “Y.P.” 1952 Stan Craft Torpedo, Jerry and Sharleen Appel