The Importance Of Boats Shows To Our Culture And Our Sanity.

A part of our culture

For years, I have always thought of classic boat shows as a dying trend. Well, I was dead wrong. Hey, it happens, and according to the Boatress, happens a lot! But I digress. With last years train wreck to our rhythm of life, we all got to experience something that many throughout the decades have not. Our lives got canceled. Like the Got Milk strategy of what life is like without something, can trigger the need for it, and answer many questions.

National Boat shows 1934

Some things, like business trips to far away places are never going to be missed again. Zoom replaced all that. Done, gone , goodby. Large sprawling cube farms in cold offices, gone. But seeing other humans, being outside, or home, or near home.. Here to stay.

Pin proof you went, then died and sold it in an estate sale and now on ebay.

BOAT SHOWS! If you look back, boat shows are part of boating life. They were reminders of summer joy, time off, and dreams. Family time and the opportunity to be exposed to “Boating” when you may not own one, but can. THATS a boat show. Come see the boats. Judging on the other hand adds a bit of a twist to some of the shows. And that’s okay with classic boats. But should not be for the awards, but for the opportunity to have your hard work looked at and appreciated. And possibly get some tips. Being judged has never been a nice thing. Having an expert go over my boat and give me tips. Always appreciated. And maybe at the end of a show. The Advisors can give universal tips and explain why one or more of the boats were appreciated. Ahhh hell, what do I know.

Seems so long ago!

What I am sure about, is I miss you all very much, I miss the laughs, the spontaneous joy that happens when you just happen upon a pal, a new pal, and a new boat.. I have missed that for sure. I hope to see many of you again, this year at some of the shows.

One of my favorite ads of all time here. Thanks Rabbit for the amazing headline, Shaun Fenn for the photos.

35 replies
  1. Bob
    Bob says:

    Well after missing last year the Chesapeake Bay Chapter is having our 33rd Annual Antique and Classic Boat Festival in St. Michael, MD June 18-20, 2021.

    Boats, vendors, boat rides, seminars! hope to see many of you there!

  2. Cameron
    Cameron says:

    Matt, just like the ‘10 reasons to buy a wooden boat’ poster you made available, this one would be great to share and use at our next show if that were possible. I really think it’s a great ad.

  3. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    I’ll just mention that “pandemic life” was different for those who work in manufacturing. They still have to actually go to where the plants are. So unfortunately, Zoom & MS Teams have not replaced the business trips to far away (& sometimes unpleasant) places for everyone.

    But yes, I need to get to a boat show!

  4. Kermit Hodges
    Kermit Hodges says:

    Hope I don’t sound petty but judging is one of the things that turns me off to going to and participating in boating shows. I realize some people love it and spend their time working on their boats working toward perfection. That is their thing and I get it and hold no grudges.

    Our thing is make the boat look nice and use the heck out of it. That leads to “Dang. Look at the mark the kids made.” Oh well, we had a lot fun and made some great memories. I will fix is this winter.

    When you show up at boat show in painted Sea Skiff, a little rough around the edges, you are like like the Red Headed step child.

    Your part of the family but you really don’t quite fit in. Everyone is drawn to your mahogany step sisters and you find yourself sitting in the corner.

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:

      Kermit, we love painted skiffs being part of our Michigan chapter shows. Come visit us!

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      And then there was the year I brought HAL to the boat show and docked her next to a dozen plus perfect runabouts.

      I was ok with that. I didn’t care whether most people couldn’t look past her 1938 patina and notice her crazy cool details: the builder’s fetish for custom made hexagon shaped hardware, her Willy’s motor, and her clutch and three speed stick shift. All I cared about was the fun of showing her, and the expectation that perhaps someone out of the thousands would smile and enjoy her idiosyncrasies.

      In other words, it’s not necessarily what others think of your boat. If you love it, show it. I’ll wager most who read this blog would smile knowingly at seeing a well kept, unspoiled user at a show.

  5. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    OH Matt!

    Now we are going to have to read comments about Soft Core Kiddie Porn.

    Planning on participating in the Boothbay Harbor Antique Boat Parade on July 1st. Want a story?

    • matt
      matt says:

      Sadly, I had to remove it from the website years ago. Google flags it as possible issues. WTF! We live in a sick world.

  6. tparsons56
    tparsons56 says:

    I enjoy the whole process starting with prepping the boat [there’s nothing quite like tinkering on a boat etc.], sometimes getting up before daybreak to get to the show and watching the sun come up with empty roads and a hot mug of coffee, the excitement of launch and getting into the slip, spending the day with other people who participate and/or appreciate our hobby and then kicking back after the show with a cold one.

    To me the judging is just a small part of the show but that’s not why I am there – it’s the entire experience.

    • Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P)
      Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P) says:

      tparson56 You said yesterday, that you have registered for The Hessel show. Did they send you somthing in the mail. Or did you have to call or e-mail them for the form? I want to get registered early, because I think it will be big. Mabie I”ll see you at the show, or at the Islander Bar.

      • tparsons56
        tparsons56 says:

        Mark: Registration just opened on their website [lower right hand corner].

        See you there!

  7. BT
    BT says:

    Good morning Matt, and thanks for the lead in. You are right on with Boat Show enthusiasm coming back. Our Whitefish Chain Classic Boat Show in Crosslake Minnesota is June 19th, and we already have 29 boats registered. We usually end up with 40 some and at this time we typically don’t have 20. I’ve warned our people that this might be our biggest show ever! We would love to see all of you.

    • Knot Lying
      Knot Lying says:

      There definitely needs to be the full schedule of shows back in action and I’m not talking zoom. At this point it’s kind of embarrassing to cancel. There are many different pro sports that are packed with spectators. Baseball, golf, boxing and even concerts going on. Classic boat shows are small fries compared to those events when talking amount of people. Those who don’t feel safe can stay home or just come out wear a mask when your standing up but then when you sit down you can take it off like you do at a restaurant 🙄. If you do come out people wanna hear about boats and engines not your lock down or if your shots made you sick or not. Time to get back the way it was. Cause unless your classic mahogany is electric and you are not putting good ol fashion gasoline in your woody then you my friend are a fan of the way it was 😁

  8. Knot Lying
    Knot Lying says:

    On that note….. there has been a good amount of shows that have been happening but I dont remember seeing any of them getting coverage here at W.B. 🤔.

    • Mahogany mafia
      Mahogany mafia says:

      Brought it up after keels and wheels no coverage if they dont cover it didnt happen alot like the drive by media

      • Bob
        Bob says:

        The St. Michaels, MD show is on for June 18, 19 and 20th. Vendors, boat rides and seminars in addition to featuring cruisers. Cruisers registered up to 65′.
        Full weekend of activities!

      • Troy in ANE
        Troy in ANE says:

        Knot and Mafia:

        Matt can’t make all the shows everywhere. If non of us bother to go to the show, take pictures, make some notes, and submit to WB, how is he supposed to cover it?

        • Mahogany mafia
          Mahogany mafia says:

          Im sure matt knows someone that went to the show its not like he doesn’t know lots of people in the wood boat community if he wanted to cover it he would have

          • briant
            briant says:

            Mafia responds to Troy…… ” Im sure matt knows someone that sends in material for the stories its not like he doesn’t know lots of people in the wood boat community if I wanted to cover it I would have “

          • Matt
            Matt says:

            No one sent anything, rarely do. I was sent a youtube video a week after the event. The video was all over the place. I dont even bother anymore.

  9. Sleepless in Seattle
    Sleepless in Seattle says:

    We got the old girl out of the boathouse and dailed her 22 thousand pounds of mahogany up to 28 knots!
    (Just had to tell somebody:)

  10. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:

    When I read “Boat Shows” I didn’t even think about all the ones on the water, many of which I have participated in, judged (no thank you) or not. I thought about being a youngster and my dad taking my brother and I to the Milwaukee boat show where I got to see all the new outboard motors and boats coming out that year, and of course collecting every brochure I could put in that complimentary Milwaukee Journal (the sponsor) bag! After dinner that night I would look at every brochure and relive what the day was like. The good news of course is shows are coming back, slowly, but they are coming back! The other thing that is coming back is while Zoom calls will still be popular, corporate America is starting to open the ballroom doors again. For those of us who make a living producing corporate event, we look forward to our 16 month vacation being over!

  11. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Big Show This Saturday at Little Bohemia in Manitowish Waters Wisconsin. Site of the movie Public Enemy , the John Dillinger shootout . Boats , Cars, Motorcycles , great comradery, food, and drink. Show put on by The Manitowish Chamber of Commerce , they have a web site if you have questions.

    See you there , steve

  12. Clay at Cross Lake
    Clay at Cross Lake says:

    Looking forward to bringing my painted lapstrake user/cruiser to the Moonlite Bay show on Cross Lake. Thanks for pulling it together again BT.

  13. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    I don’t know…..stand around at the dock or go do something with the boat.? I still think you are right Matt I am in the thought that boat shows are stale….. when a group that is younger than me (49) starts to make an appearance then you have a resurgence.

  14. Wayne W.
    Wayne W. says:

    My name is Wayne and I am a 71 yr old disabled veteran I would
    love to go to the St Michaels show but don’t drive I live in Baltimore
    if anyone is going let me know I can help with gas and tolls
    my email is Please call me at 410-391-8884
    thank you

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