Ya Know That Classic Boat Show You Think You’re Putting On? It’s Not A Boat Show!


The town of Algonac has figured it out. They are building around the vision of the home of the speedboat

While reading the huge response to yesterdays story on Classic Boat Shows, we here at Woody Boater had another observation. Your local classic boat show is not just a classic boat show anymore. It’s economic development. Thats right. When you host a boat show, you my fellow sweating volunteers are boosting the local economy and tourism. We need to stop looking at these shows as some sort of event that just we woody boaters benefit from. I read some comments that talked about dock charges and city regulations.. Heres the deal. Tell the city to go to hell if they are not going to support us! Screw them.. The amount of work you do, to get a show going, should be rewarded by the city town or marina that hosts the event. Why is it that the folks that do all the work, including the folks bringing their boats, pay for the privilege to help the local business, and grow interest in the areas specialties. Now, I know I am taking an extreme POV here.. mainly to make a point. I know many chapters do this to grow revenue for their chapter. But, when I hear of other areas charging what they do. I say, thanks but no thanks. Just think.. You are a local town, and you would love to see new folks come to your town.. mmmm possibly a demographic of folks that have money and care about history and folks that contribute to things.. mmmmm I wonder where that sort of group of lets say 500 folks on a weekend would come from? This is not a hard conversation to have. I have to bring up Tahoe, Algonac and Lake Mohawk again.. They all get it. Herb Hall At Sierra Boat Co. is an amazing host, Pete Beauregard in Algonac is a saint, and Seth from Katz’s Marina is an amazing asset to not just his local community, but the entire classic boat community. Look around at these shows,  the restaurants are full, hotels are booked, and folks in the area are reminded of the wonderful history of there water front. Folks also show up and look around with the idea of staying there. Real Estate benefits, even the local gas stations do well.  Never has the example of this been more clear, than the case of Mt Dora and Tavares Florida. We all loved Mt Dora and its history and tradition.. The problem, Mt Dora did not really like us. At least that was my impression. It was clear near the end, that they were tired of the crowd. So, the Sunnyland chapter moved the show to Tavares, and the other end of the lake. WOW! What a smart move. Taveres gets it. They get it big time to the point that there is something going on at that lake almost every weekend. Races, air shows.. etc. They are developing the area on the lake for crowds, and embracing it. To say the local Economic development guy is a genus, is an understatement. They have even restored an old train system to connect Mt Dora and Tavres together. It’s a slam dunk simple solution that is working.. Anyone out there feel un welcome in Taveres? NO! And it shows every spring. We come there from all over the US, and guess what, stay for a week, not a quickie on Friday. Our cost is an average of 4K for the week vs $1,500 for any other show..  So next time you get push back or little support from the location you want to host your show. MOVE! Try another more willing place. We will all find you and embrace your smart move!

35 replies
  1. Allen
    Allen says:

    Great observation Matt/Texx…….at Algonac we get great sponsorships from the city and local business’s. And we do other shows algong the coast of Lake Huron that recognize the value as well. Unfortunately some communities just don’t get it yet. Thanks for sharing your insights on this in public and applause to all those volunteer enthusiasts that help make these great events happen. Keep this all going………..

  2. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Very good points this morning gentlemen. There are a couple of other communities here on the eastern shores of Michigan that “get it” too. One is St. Clair, MI, just 17 or so miles up the river from Algonac. Their city rolls out the red carpet for us in July with a car show on the river and food vouchers at all the great pubs and restaurants, all with in walking distance of a wonderful harbor with easy launch ramp, floating docks, and clean facilities. Another is Port Sanilac MI half way up the mitten on Lake Huron. The whole town pitches in to provide us with a fantastic venue, including nice docks, good ramp, clean facilities, ample parking, room for motorcoaches, and considerations at the local eateries. They also bring in other hobby groups to enhance the show experience as well such as model boat builders, Tin Can Tourists, vintage motorcycles or tractors. They have a barn theatre, a taste fest, and big band music on the waterfront.
    Neither of these shows has the boat count or the budget that the larger one’s such as Taveres, Algonac, and some of the others have but they understand the value of having us come to their communities and do their utmost to make us welcome.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      The one thing all those great Michigan towns have in common is easy access to Bell’s beer. I think if leaders in more towns across the country could sit down at their waterfront with a cold pitcher of Oberon gleaming in the sunlight, they too would “get it.”

  3. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Matt/Texx- The points you raise are illustrated in the story of our chapter show. For years it was succesfully held in Kelowna, BC and attracted lots of boats and hordes of specatators. As it grew it became too much trouble, costs went up and everyone had their hand out. In the end, there was just no dockage available and the show went into “suspension” shall we say. A few years ago we approached the small resort town of Sicamous, about 75 miles north of Kelowna with the idea to have the show here. The answer was YES- and yes to almost everything. Yes to exclusive, free use of the public dock (a superb, sheltered facility) yes to use of the park for land display and vendors, yes to special trailer and vehicle parking, yes at every turn. This is really key to having a reasonably priced show, and such a positive attitude from the municipality goes along way to motivating the volunteers that make it all happen.This year we had an old car club show up to display cars, and next year we want to expand this – the answer from the town? YES. They get it and it makes the experience for everyone that much better.

    Oh yeh, I just booked Tavares for three weeks next spring – that town is indeed the poster child for embracing lake-based events and from what I can see, it has been a transformative decision for the waterfront businesses in the area.

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    If you want to promote boat shows as economic development, you do have to be careful about diluting the brand with too many shows.

    You also have to make the shows oriented more toward the land lubber coming out to take a look and less of a community of boaters getting together. That to me means more boats at the docks where people can see them and less of “us” out on the water making lunch trips to unique destinations etc. It is definitely a trade-off as the value to me is in the latter activities but the value to the town is in the larger not yet an owner crowd that is stuck on land.

    Still I like your point of view better. The reality is the show is nothing without the efforts of all the people who show up with their boats. Good venues should encourage those peoples’ generous sharing, not load them with fees for providing them the service of hosting.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      On a three day event “weekend” there should be plenty of time for boating and on-water activites, as well as boater-based social events in the evening, such as a banquet. This is wha we did this year, and we were not a judged show so few awards were given out – I think only three in fact. Saturday is the dock show, which is the only real attraction for spectators and is the draw that the community and businesses support. In-formal boating on Friday and a formal boaing event on Sunday (with no dock viewing) seems to work. This way the needs of all participants and the community seem to be met. We also permit boats to come and go during the show, but most owners seem to like to stay around and chat with spectators.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        I agree, you just have to be careful how you market. You can’t advertise it as a 3 day show to the general public or you get the disappointment we saw from the Clayton thread on the CCABC forum.

        That probably means marketing a 3 day “event” to the boaters and a Satrday “show” to the town and the general public. Make sure expectations are clear upfront.

  5. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    If you come to Algonac next year, I am going to buy you a Bell’s beer!
    What is the beautiful boat in the header today. It looks like it has Gar Wood lines, but I have never seen a sedan or enclosed model like that one.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Send me the dates! I prefer Oberon on tap in the warmer months, although it was called Solsun when I lived there in the last century. When the weather turns cool, Best Brown, the Porter, and an occasional dopplebock. Mmmmmmm.

      • Randy
        Randy says:

        You’re right, that Grand Craft is a classic looker!!! But, it looks awful crowded with just seven people in the cockpit. Should have had a MATTHEWS Martinique for that job — (7) would get lost in that 20-ft cockpit!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Hey Chris – The book was submitted to the publisher (Woody Boater) yesterday for final edit. Stay tuned…

  6. RICH
    RICH says:

    Before we headed to the Lake Arrowhead show this spring I contacted the Chamber of Commerce to inquire about beach access since we were bringing family and kids up to camp and see the show. Guess what, no response to my inquiry and no public access to the lakeshore. Great boats, cool owners, but poor hospitality for visitors to “their” lake. If you want to increase attendance at shows make sure you are being all inclusive, including families with kids and dogs who might not be staying at the high end resorts but will still be contributing to the local economy in other ways.

  7. Bill
    Bill says:

    hey carl your basicly saying what i said yesterday st clair and port sanilac and other places provide clean facilities great docks great venue and today your even promoting a car show in st clair ill bet these places would have a lot more boats show up if not for the pre registration nonsence and fees a month ahead of time to show your boat the more boats the better the local business owners like to bring people to town so they were glad to chip in for a few awards nothing fancy just a small plaque or something everyone was happy and things ran nice and smooth thats the way it used to be maybe like you say the acbs is a good thing at big shows but i liked the old way at these smaller ones

  8. brian t
    brian t says:

    This is what happened in Portland – they lost the big boat show which was in conjunction with a larger area wide Maritime Festival. The local organizers left Portland and went to St Helen’s a few miles away. No Maritime Festival this year and trust me – Portland has a very extensive history with boats and ships etc.

    On the other end is the local boat show this weekend in Lake Oswego. It just gets bigger and better every year.

    I fully agree with this viewpoint. There is always another city close by that will love the idea of having an event which brings in folks to spend cash at the local merchants.

    To hell with the cities that don’t get it.

  9. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Hi Bill, Maybe we got off on the wrong foot yesterday. I like the smaller shows and the large one’s too. Like I said yesterday, most shows struggle to break even, and I won’t reveal dollar amounts for budgets, even though I know what they are. It would be up to the individual shows to give you that info if they should choose to do so. However, even though I commented on the cost of awards, my personal choice is to have a couple of fun awards and not the big production of judging and class awards. Unfortunatley, not all people feel the same way and we have noticed attendance drops at shows that did not have multiple awards. It seems to matter a lot to some Captains. Nothing cheeses me more than to see a boat on ebay the Monday after a show stating it is an ACBS show winner. I volunteer and go to shows for many reasons, none of which is to win an award but i still stand behind the registration difference for members and non members because you should have a benefit for paying your dues. There is no doubt that the ACBS on an international level is a business, but your local chapters are basically social clubs with classic boating as the common thread.

  10. Wicked Wahine
    Wicked Wahine says:

    Rich, Come to Big Bear next weekend. Bring the whole family. Many beaches too choose from, most are dog friendly. Swim, paddle, motor or just stick your toes in. We again will be showing our boats on Saturday, No Charge! Please ask the Skippers questions about their boats, maybe go for a ride in one. Big Bear Lake is public as compared to Lake Arrowhead which is a private lake


  11. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:


    We also have day of show walk up registration, including judging the boat, at all of our Michigan Chapter shows. Our two week before the show cutoff date is for listing the boats in the show program. It sounds like we are on the same page, so I hope to see you at one of our shows next year.

    • Bill
      Bill says:

      hi greg thats not the way it works at port sanilac if your fee is not in by the deadline your not included in the judging I know i missed the deadline by a couple of days my own fault by the way and was not included a couple years back I come to all the local shows to enjoy the boats and the people a lot of whom i consider friends ive had woodys since the 60s and have met a lot of woodyboaters all good people looking forward to meeting you

      • Carl Garmhaus
        Carl Garmhaus says:

        Well Bill, All walk ups were judged this year @ Port Sanilac. I know because my wife helped count ballots and I filled out a Captain’s ballot with day of registrars hand written in.

        • Bill
          Bill says:

          carl i stand corrected they must have changed thier rules this happened to me in 2010 and when i went down there last year and inquired they told me you had to be in by the deadlne then also glad to hear they have changed that rule I dont like to sign up ahead of time look how the weather was that day what boat was yours at port sanilac i went down there between raindrops

          • Carl Garmhaus
            Carl Garmhaus says:

            I brought an outboard Grady White, my Riveria isn’t done yet, but I got it rightside up and the engine and running gear installed. Hope to be done for next season.

  12. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Grand Craft, Holland Michigan. Nice header. Is it an antique because you can’t get them anymore? Or did someone buy the company. I hope so. they were nice people. They also had Ivalite. The gentleman there helped me fix my spotlight that was not an Ivalite.

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      Grand Craft is alive and doing very well. Dick Sigh and Jeff Cavanagh bought the company last year and move operations to the Anchorage Marine Services property in Holland on the North shore of Lake Macacatwa. Jeff has owned/operated the Anchorage Marine Services yard for some ten years and made room to build new orders of Grand Crafts on the site.

  13. Alex
    Alex says:

    Chris / Hagerty: Not a book. But, like Hemingway, I am hanging in a bar just now (The Islander).

    RiverRat /Reg: My wife tells me Chris Smith founded Grand Craft. T or F? (Careful. Our marriage hangs in the answer.) There was an exquisite 30′ Grand Craft up here a couple years ago. Called “Music.” I’ll never forget that boat.

    • Tommy holmes
      Tommy holmes says:

      ChrisSmith was an advisor to the original GrandCraft as they made CC replicas. Steve Northuis was the owner/founder.

  14. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    As far as I Know Not True, although they are inspired by Chris Craft designs. Glad to know they found a new home. I will have to check it out when I am in southwest Michigan next December. I now remember it Was Dick Fly who helped me. Google them and find there website. I used to buy beer at that marina. I forget their old name. I would cross country ski down 160th from Riley road.

  15. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Both Dick Sligh and Chris Smith belong to our chapter, Water Wonderland. I have had chats with both and from what I remember, is Chris had some of the orginal prints from Chris Craft, both started the Grand Craft Company.

  16. Rich Marschner
    Rich Marschner says:

    On a whim this July, we took our ’41 C-C barrel-back to the 2nd Annual Boat Show at Belle River, Ontario, sponsored by the Bluewater Chapter of the ACBS…just about 4 hours drive from Cleveland.

    And the folks there couldn’t have been nicer — no judging, no prizes…just an appreciation of the wonderful boats (and their owners) who bothered to show up. So many big cruisers and skiffs, all well suited to the big Lake St Clair up north of Detroit. But there were a handful of us little runabouts and utilities, and plenty of admiring attendees along the docks.

    The lake is half in the U.S. and half in Canada — a great “cross-country” experience!

    But here’s the deal on this show: the mayor showed up, made a nice speech. He really cared that this show was bringing in people from all over — even as far as Cleveland. The city marina welcomed everyone, giving up slips and launch/recovery assistance to everyone, gratis. The town was behind this show, and they made that clear to everyone.

    Total cost to attend? $30 per boat, for everything. Oh, and an additional $4.50 if you wanted to attend the afternoon Bar-B-Que, featuring a fabulous pork sausage made by a local butcher.

    I like the big shows too, but these little ones are the heart and soul of the woody boating fraternity…at least it seems that way to me, a novice woody boater for all of about 15 months now….

    I just offer this show as representative of many little shows that seem to spring up every year. Look for them in your area; they’re really rewarding to attend.

    Rich Marschner

  17. Tommy holmes
    Tommy holmes says:

    Sorry, Dick Sligh did not start Grand Craft, but he did make it famous. I understand that Chris Smith advised Grand Craft at first, as the company originally made CC replicas. My memory recalls Northuis as the founder.
    Lots of luck settling your bet, alex

  18. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    Tommy:..I think you memory is correct.

    As for shows..ole timers will tell you Mt. Dora should have learned its lesson early as the show originally started at the Holiday Inn at Sanford. But the Holiday Inn which filled to capacity on show weekend wouldn’t keep it’s docks in repair, so show organizer, Dale Tassell talked to the Mt. Dora Chamber and moved the show over there. Guess the Mt. Dora folks forgot that a show that moved once could move again. Believe me that show, is a money maker for that whole area….Not only on show weekend but I can not count the number who have moved there to take up Winter, if not permenant residence because of the show and the number of other classic boaters who have moved there because of the show.

  19. Chris Finks
    Chris Finks says:

    Brian T and all:

    I am late in writing this as I was participating in the Lake Oswego boat show with our cruiser. That said, as the producer/organizer of the Maritime Heritage Festival (formerly in Portland, Oregon), we moved the Maritime Heritage Festival to St. Helens, Oregon this year which was held July 13-15 to much success (8-10,000 people, 50+ boats mostly cruisers…local ACBS chapter elected to only support the Lake Oswego Show this year for some odd reason, but our Seattle Chapter came and plans to bring more next year).

    So, the Maritime Heritage Festival did occur and it will be back again in St. Helens in 2013 within a community that “gets it.” We had great support from the mayor, city council, county commissioners and an amazing business community and volunteer base. The support from St. Helens was in pleasant contrast to my/our experience in Portland where were incurred fees of approximately $9,000 and pretty apathetic reception of the event by the City. Although we had good attendance,we could not stay in Portland and keep the event free to the public as we rely completely on sponsorships and modest entry fees for the boats ($20 which got a plaque, swag bag, Friday night reception, etc) and a dinner was an additional $30.

    While I am the producer/founder (donate my time along with the help of amazing volunteers) The Maritime Heritage Festival is part of a new non-profit called the Maritime Heritage Coalition. Along with the festival (and sharing classic boats), the goal of this group is to build a permanent maritime center including a museum and the recent Maritime Heritage Festival was another great step toward that ambitious goal.

    Wish us luck in 2013 and maybe join us with your boat! We are in the process of finalizing the date which is looking like that last weekend of July…stay tuned!


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