Are Classic Boat Shows Becoming Irrelevant Or To Expensive? There Is Hope!


As we hit the the peak of boat show season last weekend, we looked back on the summer of fantastic boat shows that we have gone to date. And one thing hit us. The cost! We figured that for every show we go to, the cost came out to around $1,500 a weekend, depending on the show. Ya figure Gas, hotel, meals and more gas.. Now, if you include airfare, and car rentals, it can climb up very fast… a spouse and add about 50% more. Now… if you are only going to one or two shows a year, these costs are very reasonable and OK for a fun get away weekend. To be fare, the show it’s self is usually 15 bucks, and if you want to enter a boat. Another $75 or so. Nothing earth shattering. It’s the hidden costs that eat ones wallet. NOW.. if you are bringing a boat to the show.. you can add another chunk of change. So why do a story like this? Why remind folks that it costs them money to go to a show? Because in the end, it aint a show if there are not any boats. The truth is, it’s a bitch to put on a show, lots of thankless hours of volunteer work, and preparation. But if some guy does not bring his boat to the show, it’s all meaningless. Take this past weekends show in Clayton. Not one of there banner years. As one reader said, ” there were more boats in the auction than at the docks” maybe not true, but close enough that there is a point there. So why? Are shows down this year?  Yes.. We would guess from going to the shows.. About 10%-20% down.. Is it just gas, costs as mentioned above ? Actually, we don’t think so.. Maybe its all the stuff added up? Or is it that boat shows are becoming irrelevant? And yes I had to look up irrelevant! Anyway.

We noticed this year that certain shows were up surprisingly! Certain events had more action and fun associated with them. Tahoe with its extreme focus on Rivas, Lake Mohawk, and its focus on fun and visiting a new location. This was the second year of Lake Mohawk. And is about double from last year. A fun small Lake with insane high quality boats . Now, one could say the first year was small because it was new.. Right, but it grew.. LIFE! Folks like a gathering of like minded folks. So maybe its the way shows are perceived…. Here is a possible explanation. And its not about age.

Back in the day, clubs and shows were a very key part of allowing folks of like minds to gather together and meet. In fact it was the only way. So a local and national event was more than looking at boats and talking to fellow classic boaters. It was the only way to meet and share information. Well.. Mr I am reading this today.. Things have changed. No longer do we need to meet in or on a specific location and date. We can sip our java and talk with chums as far away as New Zealand in a second. I can see more boats than Chris Smith did in a lifetime of making boats. So going to a show is not important anymore. It’s fun.. A transference from need to fun has happened over the past 10 years. Now with that observation, I would say that the folks that are showing up are doing it to have… fun! To take there boats out on the water, and not feel like they are the only ones that smell gas all time, or that the 1 gallon of water in the bilge is normal. And yes.. TO SMELL THE VARNISH! To touch and see wonderful craftsmanship in person. To be with others to test the waters so to speak. many of us, are new to this. We were 5 when our dads sold the old Woody.. So really and honestly, staring at a boat at a dock, aint why we are at a show. This isnt rocket science. It’s marketing, it event planning and its promotion. Not about money or the price of fuel. We would love to know your thoughts on this. From folks that put on local shows and what you have seen succesful and not! Thanks from the team at Woody Boater.

Having Donzi fun on Lake Dora! No dock shot here!

76 replies
  1. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    No time to go to shows. Work comes first. The $1500 plus made at work after life’s expenses goes to my annual time at “The River” when I can finally use my boats. Lyman Heaven. Try not to miss me while I am gone.

  2. Bill
    Bill says:

    remember when you didnt have to regester for a show ahead of time you could just show up you cant tell what the weather will be three weeks from now and they didnt charge you 50.00 if your not a member of acbs or 30.00 if you are why the extra juist because you chose not to join their club and justify it by giving you a goodie bag full of advertising stuff they get for free local merchants used to chip in for a few awards and i think things were a lot better with this system 50.00 is not going to make or break ya but why should you have to pay to show your boat you are doing them a favor by bringing your boat to their show the acbs turns it into a business

  3. alfaguy
    alfaguy says:

    A couple of thoughts on this. Personally I haven’t gone to any shows this year. But, that’s more because I’ve just been too busy with work and other things and not the cost.

    The big things for me, having been to several shows in the past, there needs to be more emphasis on getting out on the water to have fun.

    So often, get the boat in the water and tied up at the dock by 9:00am, the. It has to stay there all day, when you get to go for a brief cruise, before the mad rush to the ramp to pull the boat out. That just isn’t any fun.

    It’s also a lot more fun, if you can come and go all day, and provide an opportunity to take spectators out for a ride. This is a great way to introduce new people to the joys of woody boating, and grow the community. (as a matter of fact, this is how I got hooked on woodies)

    We need more organized river cruises, and things like that where we can use our boats too.

    Lastly, as someone else mentioned, I’m more likely to decide to go to a show (with a boat) if I can make that decision at the last minute. The weather in so much of the country is just too iffy most of the time, I don’t want to take the time and spend the money to stand around in the rain …

    Thanks for listening,


  4. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I think any weekend away in pursuit of any hobby, or even just a break from normal to get away, will cost you $1500, if your example is correct. It is not just our hobby by any means.

    The actual cost of the show is usually not significant, whether it be entry fee for a boat or a pass for a spectator. Our little show at Sicamous was down a couple of boats, but mostly because of last minute breakdowns or other unavoidable problems. The spectator count was at least what it was last year, likely more.

    We went to the Sandpoint, ID. show in July and they had a record turn out for boats and the usual heavy crowds. I think people still like to get out and enjoy looking at boats, expecially the casual spectator who does not get to see them all the time, as we hobbyists do. Shows have to be fun for the boat owners though and for many of us that means on the water time.

    Yes, the internet has to some extent replaced the need to get out and “see” boats as the only way to really look at them or exchange information with owners, but it does not replace, and cannot replace, the tactile social experience of gathering a bunch together for a show, or of gathering a bunch together and using them. Many folks are not interested in that aspect of classic boating, but many are and will continue to be.

  5. Moosemeat
    Moosemeat says:

    Don’t overlook another aspect of the boat shows, namely a chance to speak to the owners and hear their stories. There was a gent at the Clayton show who was exhibiting one of those 1900’s cruiser type boats with the canvas canopy and brass railings. He had two young ladies with him dressed in period attire. If you were at the show you would remember this boat; it was out on the dock that had the osprey nest.
    This owner was there almost the entire day talking to the show attendees, and inviting them onto his boat to sit down out of the sun. later, I was told by one of the show volunteers that he was celebrating his hundredth birthday that evening. You don’t meet people like that every day.

  6. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    For me, it’s mostly about getting to see and be with people & their boats. I can boat at home, but I can’t cruise to a “floating paradise” & have a beer with friends from Texas, NJ & Canada. Hope to see everyone at Tablerock!

  7. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Well, Bill you are not doing me any favors by bringing your boat. Just stay home. I will have more time to visit with my friends and view the show with my wife instead of working my tail off to make sure you have a nice dock, clean restrooms, decent events, and listen to you whine if you think your feelings were hurt or you feel slighted when the judging is done.
    Most boat shows struggle to break even. If you think a show is free to stage you are sadly mistaken. Call your local trophy shop and price out a quality award. Call your local printer and price out a full color, high quality poster and show program. I know you want one when you come to a show. Food isn’t free and when you are planning on 150 to 200 people it isn’t cheap either. And if it rains and the show gets washed out who do you thinks eats the expense? The host ACBS club does, that’s who.
    And why should I give you all the benefits of a member by charging you the same registration fee. Then there is no incentive for you to join your local ACBS and have access to all the networking available and it lessens the value of membership to those who are members.
    So, just stay home, or if you want to go to a free show buy a classic car and sit in a hot parking lot in your lawn chair all day. See how much fun that is!

    • scalertom
      scalertom says:

      Very good Brian. I can hardly wait to get my 14′ runabout completed so i can participate in one of our shows.

  8. Allen Lee
    Allen Lee says:

    Two of the shows I attend in NW lower Michigan are spectator and owner friendly. Free to attend, owners can pre register or register the morning of the show. Slightly more to register for non members. I hope they keep this format.

  9. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Having been Chairman or Co-Chairman of the Algonac show for the last four years, I can second Carl’s comments regarding what it takes to put on a good show. However, I would also like to add that it all seems worthwhile when the boats start to arrive on show weekend, and you see what a wonderful display of classic craft you have, and what a great group of fellow boaters have brought them to the show. I know that the web sites, blogs and internet in general have given us a communication network that we never had before. However, it does not replace that handshake with the captain after he docks his boat. It does not provide that adreneline rush when a dozen or more woodies that are on plane during one of the show events. It does not replace the excitement of seeing that members newly restored beauty as it shows up at the show for the first time. This is what shows are all about to me, and why I will keep trying to get more people involved in sharing that sense of enjoyment, and keeping another classic boat from meeting the fate of a bonfire or chainsaw.

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      I watched you guys run your butts off running the Algonac show. As a guest I was able to just show up at events and not worry about planning,setup,manpower or cleanup. You guys even got people rides when their own boats were down (thanks). Personally I would much rather pay to attend a show than run one. This week I’ve been boating with family and freinds and having LOTS of fun but it won’t replace the occasional show for me.

  10. Steve Haines
    Steve Haines says:

    This summer we attended ACBS shows for the first time as a participant with our boat. We attended our local Southern New England ACBS show which could not have been more fun and convenient, as well as the New England ACBS show on Lake Winnipesaukee, the later involving, plenty of time in the truck, fuel, untold stress and logistics to attend, but also well worth it in any way measurable. I was accompanied to both shows by the best crew a guy could ask for, my wife and two teenage daughters who all fully participate in the care and operation of our 67′ Lyman Cruisette. At the shows our family and boat were well received by the clubs hosting the event and the crowds on the docks. We met lots of great people, got to enjoy their stories and boats and even learned a thing or two about antique boats. My kids got to enjoy the fun and excitement of judging and took a great deal of pride in the awards we won but we also see it for what it is. I am hoping this will translate to lifetime appreciation of these wonderful boats for them to carry forward as they get older. We use our boat every weekend just the same or more as any new Sea Ray or Cobalt and every winter it gets loving restored to showroom condition. When my girls have their own families, hopefully they will buy and old Chris-craft or Lyman instead of some slick Moomba ski boat when the time comes for them to get out on the water. When at the shows we also enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the folks on the docks some who had stories about similar boats in their past, projects they would like to get to, or just telling them about our boats and the others at the show. We are all simply stewards of these old craft, part of the fun of woody boating is sharing them with the world. Yes I would like to see more cruise/ride oriented shows. I am not a big fan of the trailer queens but they have their place too. I have a huge appreciation for the folks who put in the long hours setting up these events and will be getting more involved with our local clubs to help out where I can. Sites like Woody Boater and other resources on the web are doing great things for the hobby but getting out, using and sharing these boats in person is what this is all about. Lastly if you are looking at this from an accounting perspective, you are simply in the wrong sport.

  11. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Thanks Greg for calming me down a bit because I really like it when folks tell us what a great job we did and they had a lot of fun. It’s important to remember we are only the custodians of a segment of maritime history and it is our duty to share that heritge.

  12. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    I would not be suprised if the Clayton show had fewer boats in the water. While we attended the event last year, it was one of the more expenseive shows to registar for. Forcing me to paid to become a member of thier Museum did not sit right with me. Ok, I got to tour the fine grounds free that day, but I would have been better off to purchase tickets for the place.
    I loved the area, but would think twice before I would tow my boat there again.

    Another event I wanted to go to, was the Bay Harbor Classic car and wooden boat show. They are double the fees of every one else, $65.00 to show my boat and $65.00 to show my car.

    While we love and support the pre-event cruises, etc, sometimes the amount they charge for each cruise is getting costly and adds up to a big bill over the weekend, or the week, for the International ACBS show.

    I know there are costs involved, but we should try to breakeven on events and not see them as a moneymaker. $25.00 to $30.00 each for a hot dog lunch stop while on a cruise is the kind of thing I am talking about.

    While it cost a lot to attend all these fine events, the pay back is like Greg L. stated, well worth the time and money and yes, the hassel of towing a rig around.

    Sorry I got so long winded, but it is raining and I got a free day to kill…

  13. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    I am very understanding of the high cost of attending and showing a boat at a show. It’s why I have only attended one ACBS national show. If you are a cruiser guy it’s even higher because of that necessary stop at the fuel dock. We do our very best to keep our show cost to the captain’s as low as possible and our membership dues in our chapter are some of the very lowest in the country. Our volunteers work very hard to try to make you day enjoyable. If you come to Algonac, we will do our best to make you feel welcome.

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      I think the Algonac show is one of the best value show there is. I used up a full tank of gas that weekend!!!

  14. Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy says:

    Well our Meredith NH show actually had more boats this year and more boats for sale. I think the high price show locations are killing people. I know location, location, location, I am a realtor. But If you came and stayed 2 weeks in NH you could easily go to 2 shows on lake Winni and trailer and attend the Naples Maine show. So what im saying is make it a vacation that you can afford , be on the water in a couple different lakes and enjoy.

  15. brian t
    brian t says:

    More often than not, the costs associated with a show come from the owner of the venue. Our local big show here in Lake Oswego is free for the boat owner and spectator alike. The costs are paid for by corporate sponsors and our Heritage Council. This city understands the idea that not charging for the use of their land brings in more folks who end up happy and spending money at our local merchants – boat owners and show attendees. The city wins with happy and healthy businesses. Yes, there is much work involved for many folks, but they do it because they love the boats and people.

    On the opposite end is a city like Portland, who charge asinine amounts of money to use their venues. The result is a crappy show, $6 curly fries, and a $35 fee to show your classic car. Portland charged the boat club $5000 to use the docks for a weekend – the next year the club built their own docks and this year the show was moved to another city nearby. Portland lost out big time.

    For years I have urged the car show guys to find another venue for the British car show and to tell Portland to go to hell but each year they cave to the pressure and we get a crappy car show. Until certain clubs and show organizers grow a backbone, cities will overcharge and the show will just suck dirt or disappear.

    Our LO boat show is this upcoming weekend and I plan on doing things a bit different – I am going to give more rides to the spectators. Staring at a boat is one thing – but actually touching the boat and zooming along on the water is something very different.

    And yes, I remember who pays the bill at our show. I make a little extra effort to frequent the sponsors the remainder of the year.

  16. Texx
    Texx says:

    Greg & Carl – As you guys know, we get around to a number of boat shows throughout the year, from coast to coast and back again.

    Each show has a certain flavor and appeal, from the small local show to the big guns like Lake Tahoe last weekend – We love being at all of them.

    But that show in Algonac a few months ago was, in my opinion, “As good as it gets” in terms of what a modern 2012 boat show should be. Sure it’s historic Algonac, and that’s important. But the friendly, outgoing people and the fact that two of the three days was spent out on the water made this one of the best shows I have ever attended in the last 9 years that I have been going to boat shows.

    The static show on Saturday was almost like a pit stop, time for everyone to re-fuel, check for leaks, do some boat show paperwork (like judging and awards) and then get back out on the water early Sunday morning.

    Then there’s our friend Pete Beauregard and cruising the St. Clair Flats all day… But that’s another story.

    You guys get it – and thanks for inviting Matt & I along for the ride!

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      Along with all the OFFICAL Cruising that weekend, I fired up OLD SCHOOL on Friday night after the Cocktail party and ran down to Gull Island, and just missed that big storm. Then on Saturday, after the rewards, my buddy Bob and I fired up again, and headed over to the Clinton River and Metro Beach area for drinks… Now you can see how I burned up a tank full of gas at a Classic Boat Show… What a ride, what a great woodie weekend.

  17. PhilB
    PhilB says:

    I really hope that boat shows are not becoming irrelevant and I wanted this time to thank all of the exhibitors and all who are involved in putting on these shows present, past and future (clubs, facilities, owners, volunteers, museums, sponsors and the list goes on…). Even though the web has made significant leaps in the last decades at providing picture, information, connections… I don’t think that the web will ever replace the memories generated by boat shows. For me Boat shows are days that I look forward to which generate friendships and memories for a lifetime.

    On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Clayton vintage race regatta, I cannot help to think that these types of events are also great additions to boat shows.

    My two cent!

    Thank you again to all who invest their time and money in these events.

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      My view of the web and sites like provide a very positive incentive, on attending various classic events ACCROSS THE COUNTRY. When I look at all the beautiful lakes these shows are on, and think how nice it would be to cruise that area, I start adding places to my “BUCKET LIST”.
      Looking at pictures and reading the on site reports from each event is great, but being there in person is event greater.

  18. Texx
    Texx says:

    Matts gone for lunch so while he’s out, I have to ask the question…


    • matt
      matt says:

      OK I am back, what the heck? Thats a better question than the entire rant today. We struggle with this. We dont want to be a place to dump photos from shows, and want to be at the shows we report on. Look at the shows we have been to. They get full coverage on. We try very hard to find the fun moments and get photos of boats doing what they do best..

  19. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Thanks for including us on your highlight reel, we really appreciate the complements, I know Dennis had a blast, I saw some great pictures of his boat running all over the place.
    I think WoodyBoater should continue to report from around the country, it gives some of us organizers a chance to see how different venues conduct their events. I not only enjoy seeing boats, boathouses, and scenery that I would not normally get a chance to see but also to maybe learn something that we can incorporate in one of our local events. Keep up the good work. I also like the forum of a question such as this one to stimulate discussion. We can agree to agree or agree to disagree. It’s good for either way.

  20. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    1. I just wish I had a show to go to.
    2. Matts role should be to photograph every Century Boat at every show. I’d like that.

  21. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    Oh and guess what. Remember back in March when I took my Resorter to the ONLY show in New Zealand and it overheated. Just heard from the engine shop. Cracked heads.
    Aggghhhhhh. Anyone know where I could get two heads for a 58 Ford Interceptor 272CI 150HP? Ive got Jeremy at ABC looking for me.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      I have a complete 292 185 hp for sale. I think it is a 1960-62 but I really don’t know. Can’t imagine the shipping will be cheap, but if your interested, send me a note.

  22. Nehmer Kid
    Nehmer Kid says:

    I love this hobby and for those that have trailer queens thats great but I fully believe in using them and promoting our hobby with a Fly- by on a pier or running side by side up the coast. We use to have six or eight shows a year, now their are 100 to choose from. We burn out volunteers and the cost isn’t the issue, its the shows are now watered down, so many to choose from. If you want a trophy go buy one, to show your friends. if you want to have some fun use them… that makes more sense. The boat and the people are what make shows fun, not the awards. I hope people don’t loose site of what makes this hobby so fun….

  23. Alex
    Alex says:

    Hessel attendance was up 40% this year, thanks in part to much better weather. Boat count was 120, steady. Local boat count was up for the 5th year straight. That trend should continue.

    Cost? Children 12 and under are free. Children 13-18 are $3.00. Adults are $7.00. So essentially, the show is “free” to attend. Boat registration cost? I don’t recall but it’s reasonable. Food quality is very good, and it’s fairly priced. So it’s a good time on a dime for participants, volunteers, and guests.

    And yes, the 2012 Show write up is coming.

    • Jim Staib
      Jim Staib says:

      I went to hessel for the first time in 8 years or so. Seen your boat. I think I tried to buy it in Lake Geneva 20 years ago. Anyway The show was GREAT!!
      $90 fuel for the 1100 miles.
      $150 for 2 nights in St. Ignace
      $100 for food and beer.
      I was doing fine till I found that rummage sale just west of town. It was trickery at it’s best! How can you not follow a sign that says “Mans rummage sale, old boat parts”
      Anyway that put me over budget.
      Didn’t bring a boat but had such a good time I’ll think about returning next year.

    • JR
      JR says:

      Alex – excellent remarks you made in the St. Ignace News article about the LCI show. You “hit the nail on the head” in regard to the boats being great, but that friends, family, and memories are truly what vintage boating is all about.

      Well done!

  24. Alex
    Alex says:

    Nehmer Kid, Ha! We did just that. A XK-18 fly-by this year en route to staging the boat at the Show. My buddy in the boat said: “hey Maverick, did you get permission to buzz the tower?” And the rest was, well, immature.

  25. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I have not been to a show in years, even though there are a half dozen “good” ones within a 4 hour drive, including Clayton. The key to get me to go would be to offer an experience that beats a weekend on the water with my family. Being tied to a dock for two days and then getting one of the dozens of trophies handed out wont do that. Even if it is only 10 miles down the lake from me. OTOH, an event centered around boating, people, food, more food, and Bell’s beer in a cool vacation spot could be appealing.

    I could see myself making the trip to Algonac or Hessel for the beer and to visit a great state. Sounds like they use their boats to go to fun places around the show too. Tavares would be a possibility despite the distance because it could be combined with a family vacation and it wouldn’t use up one of the precious summer weekends here in the frozen north. If they could only find some clear blue water down there! I am sure there are others but you get the picture.

  26. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:


    Thanks for the kind words regarding our Algonac show. You don’t know how much your comments are appreciated.
    Regarding the role of WoodyBoater, I regard you guys (Matt and Texx) as the ambassadors of the woodyboater lifestyle. I know there are a lot of others that contribute and help, but you two carry the torch. You have clearly defined over the last few years what your role should be for both shows and the entire hobby. Just keep doing what you are doing, and if there are a few dissenters out there, ignore them!

  27. Bill
    Bill says:

    hey carl i have been in a number of boat shows and have never whined about anything i was just giving my opion on todays subject also a lot of people enjoy going to car shows they must have fun or they wouldnt do it

  28. Observer
    Observer says:

    I guess I am going to jump on Bill’s stump for a moment. I have gone to many shows over the years some with a wood boat some without and always wondered why one has to pay to join ACBS, then a local chapter to enter your boat and then pay for entry in the show. One time I pulled our boat to Mt Dora around 1500 miles RT at 3.60 plus per gal and then had to join Sunnyland chapter as well to enter . I know nothing is free and do not mind paying a resonable fee for things but our local chapter puts on a show and by the time you pay 50.00 entry, 25.00 per person for a buffet lunch on the cruise on friday that 2 people can eat for way less than 25.00 total normally, then 35.00 per person for the banquet on Sat. night. you have spent 170.00 plus 2 nights hotel, other meals and gas which is 3.75 gal in our area. I questioned someone once why the fees were so high, said purchasing spirits was expensive along with all the other required things. I have also been to many british car shows and motorcycle events all over the country and nowhere else I’ve encountered do you have to join the national club to participate in the activities, Must be a business, they could lower their fee as well if they would do away with the expensive directory, Having said all that I appreciate all the hard work the volunteers put in to make things happen. I guess I am somewhat of a bottom feeder because of my income level but we have as much fun as anyone else. As someone has already stated if you want a trophy go buy one. I’ll admit I am one who owns classic cars as well and must be having fun in the sun there also. Have a good day.

  29. Jim
    Jim says:

    As someone who is interested in getting into wood boats, I have attended several shows recently. I also built a cosine wherry last winter. I find that many of the boat owners at some shows have a very arrogant attitude with us neophites while at other shows (typically the smaller ones) they are extremely engaging and helpful. Clayton vs. Keuka Lake are an example of each. If you want more people to be involved treat people decently. I am much more impressed by the 15′ restored Lyman than the 2008 Hacker triple cockpit..

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Stay in touch if you are in the Keuka area and get yourself a woodyboat. I definitely like how the Winecountry folks who run the show make the “regatta” a big part of the show each year. It gets the boats off the dock and roaring down the lake like they should be.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      We had a new chapter member show up to our small show last week with a very basic wooden boat, one that had not run or been in the water in at least 5-10 years. He had it on land display because he had no experience with boats of any sort and was unsure of what to do. Well, a bunch of the chapter guys got hold of that boat and had it running and in the water before the day ended. The newbie was thrilled, he learned a lot and he knows what he has to buy before he drives the boat (#1 on the list is an impellor!). But there is a great spirit at boat shows and most boat owners want to help each other. From personal experience I can say that one of the events that drew us into the hobby was the incredible help we received at the pre-events to the 2008 International in Idaho, after a launching mishap damaged our boat. We were swarmed with folks helping us, and we were the neophytes. The International is one of the bigger events of the year but we did not experience any arrogance. I have no doubt it exists but I always try to go out of my way to welcome everyone, because that was what we experienced as newcomers to th ehobby.

  30. matt
    matt says:

    Thanks Jim, the smaller shows are always more fun. But the big ones bring the big guns. I will say though, if you want both large and fun. HANDS DOWN, Mt Dora in the spring is the best. Its the start of the season, and everyone is happy to be alive. Folks from all over the world come and the awards are all about fun. Clayton as a large show is a tough one for fun factor. I am still trying to figure that one out.

  31. Texx
    Texx says:

    Jim – I completely understand how you feel as a newcomer to the hobby.

    When I first became interested in restoring an old wooden boat, there was no Woody Boater and (in 2003-04) the amount of information on the internet was very limited.

    So for the first two years I decided that the best way to educate myself about the hobby in general was to attend a few boat shows – which I did… Probably 6 or 7 shows in the first two years. It was great, I slowly learned, but I also found it difficult to connect with many of the boat owners at the shows. (I always blamed it on the fact that I have the social skills of a pocket gopher)

    I feel that one of the best things the show participants could do is offer to take interested folks for a boat ride. Not a taxi ride like Clayton where they charge each person 50.00, but just a simple boat ride for people to experience what it’s like and connect with newcomers.

    That simple 15 minute boat ride will help bridge the gap between the boat owners and newcomers standing on the dock. It also helps to develop relationships, which otherwise may never happen. Then, if the newcomer is serious about getting more involved in the hobby, the boat owner can help with introductions, contacts, knowledge about restorers, etc.

    Last year, I attended the South Lake Tahoe show in California. I arrived late on Saturday afternoon and rushed to the dock to snap a few photos as the show was closing for the day – Still wearing my black Harley-Davidson jacket, which is perfect if you want everyone to ignore you (dirty bikers).

    I was standing on the dock admiring “Mountain Lyon” – Lee & Sandy Chase’s magnificent 1932 28′ Lycoming powered Sea Lyon. I asked Lee a few questions, and then he said “If you can be back at the dock at 9:00 AM you are welcome to come for a ride with us up the lake to the chapter picnic.”

    The next morning I was there at 8:30 AM and got my ride of a lifetime… And I will never forget that day.

    Today, a year later, Lee & Sandy are my friends and we enjoyed each others company in Tahoe last week. It all started with a simple boat ride.

    So back to my point, if the boat show organizers could somehow arrange to have a few U-22’s or people friendly user boats (with friendly Captains) and maybe cover their fuel for the day, imagine the possibilities…

    Lastly, I have to say that based on my similar experience going to boat shows all those years ago, last weekend in Tahoe when I was with my little Riviera at the dock, regardless who stopped to look at it, I gave them 100% of my attention and did my best to share my knowledge of the boat and hobby – Even with my limited social skills…

  32. Jim Comstock
    Jim Comstock says:

    I hope the next show I go to some of you might be there, you sound like people I would like to meet. Do you guys feel that a survey should be done on a16 to 17 ft boat before purchase. I will still be going to shows to check out the boats even if there is a fee. There is something about woodies.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      It depends on what you are buying and what you are paying for it. If you are paying very little for a project boat, you expect problems, no need for a survey to tell you that they are there. If you are buying something that is supposed to be pristine and water worthy for decades to come, I would have that checked.

  33. Wicked Wahine
    Wicked Wahine says:

    Matt & Texx, You guys get IT! As do others judging by their comments. I will try to be brief. In 2005 I bought a 54 century resorter from a Nor Cal gentlemen. I knew nothing about Century`s, CC`s etc. It was just a Bitchin looking boat to me. I joined the So Cal Acbs a week later so I could attend a boat show, I knew NOBODY and didn`t care. That was then and then is now. I have personally been in charge of our Lake Arrowhead show for two years now. Is it easy? No it`s not. You have to be concerned about caterer`s Hotel rooms, parking, cars,trailers,boats,docks, wheel chairs,trophys,placards,judging,advertising,local politics,meals,speakers,no shows,late arrivals,weather,the list goes on and on. And I Will Do it Again and Again. It`s for the PEOPLE, the boat owners, the club members and the general public who admire our watercraft. What more can I say. Texx I will swim for my boat anytime If I can put a smile on someone`s Face.


  34. chad
    chad says:

    The WORST boat show is BETTER than the BEST day of work.

    I wish I could attend them all. Sure, there are some “duds” out there, but I have yet to attend a show that I didn’t enjoy.

    Like TEXX stated, they all have their own flavor and appeal. I look forward to shitty weather, low attendance and $6 curly fries… especially when the alternative is sitting in front of my computer, working.

  35. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    I’d like the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club to organize a event where if you bring a boat it’s FREE!

    No $50 registrations, no $10 hot dogs or $50 dinners.

    BYO Stuff and Boat!!!!

    Question is where to do it???

    I’ve never been to Sturgis but what a gathering. people just go to hang out and bike. Great concept.

  36. Texx
    Texx says:

    Great idea Don – That would be fun!

    The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a wonderful gathering of folks who share a common interest in motorcycling and the history of the rally, which was inaugurated in 1938 in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

    A good friend attended the rally in 2010 and parked his bike in a field designated for folks attending the event. The organizers were parking motorcycles in long rows of 1,000 bikes per row, and he parked in Row 24…

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      The issue for us in the boating hobby is simple – space. For instance, the ACBS International is limited to some extent as to where it can be held by numbers of boats – about 150 or so seems to be the maximum. This is regardless of what kind of gathering it is, judged, not judged, a fun gathering or whatever. You still have to launch and moor and retrieve a lot of boats and there are simply very venues or locations that can accommodate large numbers of short-term boating visitors. Would be a damn fun thing to attend if it could ever be organized. I think it would have to be held a lake with multiple moorage and launching options, not just one. Where I am not sure – ideas?

  37. Alex
    Alex says:

    Er, Chad… You “look forward to shi_ ty weather, low attendance and $6 curly fries…?” Coming from you, that was a little dark. Comes across like “whip me with your weather, abuse me with your attendance, and flail me with your fries.” So… especially rough work week, or did you have us confused with another type show you attend?

  38. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    It is not just the shows, it is boating in general that is in a real slump…..boating on the chesapeake in my mid bay area is way way down….gas price I suspect is the biggest reason. Roadside boats for sale lots are stuffed to the bean field with unsaleable tupperware. I guess it is the economy and the economy and the…..
    not the location location location..

    John in Va. I AM going boating, went yesterday!!

  39. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    I think Don Ayers idea is excellent, why not have it at Lake Cumberland KY. It is within a days drive from a large portion of our country and has around 9 marinas including a state park resort on 1200 plus miles of shoreline, around 101 miles long. The Wolf Creek dam repairs has the lake level lowered around 30 to 40 feet but there is still 90 feet of water back up the coves, no danger of running aground, It is a great place for boating, most all marina’s have a restaurant with a good selection. There has been a boat rampup for the last 3 years and in 2010 there were 1651 boats from 20 states that tied up together so the area can handle a lot of people. Plus you will have some southern hospitality with smiling faces and friendly people.

  40. John Martin
    John Martin says:

    Well I don’t feel they are irrelvant at all. I don’t even own a boat but in the last year I have been to 3 boat shows. I want ot own a boat but money is tight and I can’t afford it right now. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to go or feel like they aren’t needed.

    I live in SC and since I don’t own a boat I don’t do much boating. But shows are the one thing that keeps me from letting the dream of owning a woody go by the wayside. I went to the Lake Hartwell show, the Charlotte NC show and even went to Sunnyland for their big one. That’s right! I drove 8 hours for a long weekend just because the show was there. I stayed with family on the east coast while there so cost was not an issue, but I would have gone anyway. I even got a ride in Thayer IV!!! Now THAT was something else you just don’t get a chance to do unless shows continue.

    I have a bucket list of boats I want to see in person that I will never get unless the folks that put on these shows continue their hard work. I for one would volunteer to help at a show just for the chance to talk, look and drool with other woody boaters. Keep em coming and I will keep going to them for sure. Next month I will sit at the end of the dock in Charlotte, NC and take photos of beautiful wood boats. Won’t cost me a penny, I get a lot of good information and have a great Saturday. I’ll even see a nice 33′ steam powered homebuilt do some cruising. My hope is that by 2013 I will be bringing a boat and not just looking at them!!


  41. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:


    Lake cumberland sounds like a possible spot. Is that not the lake that they hold the big Alan Jackson event on the water? I might be confused.

    Imagine if we scheduled an event for all to come together and just boat around and raft up for lunches etc. No fees just fun!!!!

    The CCABC could sponsor the event for all. We would just organized a schedule and put out all the infor for people to make their own choices about where to stay, eat, boat etc.

    Imagine hundreds of woody rafted up and swarming the lake!! What a time that would be.

  42. Alex
    Alex says:

    While I love the idea of Michigan, the thought of a WoodyPalooza on Lake St. Clair is not a comforting one. Wild driving, potentially rough (wind, boat traffic), and more than a few boozed drivers. Hence the nickname Lake St. Scare. No offense intended at all Carl, but smaller boats (ski, 16-U’s) might find it tough going there. We need a universally comfortable venue. A river cruise perhaps? One without barges, dams, whitewater, waterfalls, snakes, gators, rocks, stumps, pontoon boats…?

  43. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    That’s a great idea, maybe a wood version of this I understand Allen Jackson had a few concerts at either Percy Preist Lake east of Nashville Tn. or Center Hill Lake east of Nashville around Smithville Tn. where he had/has a house’ I am not sure which. I had heard that he stopped because of too many people. Sure would be a great long weekend affair, I don’t know if my heart would take so many wood boats at the same time. ha, maybe using the Lake Cumberland State Resort Park as the host location, Our local Bluegrass ACBS show has used their facilities and will be again next month for our show. The Mgmt. people are very receptive to groups and hold many events there throughout the year.

  44. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    We’re pretty used to the boat traffic and lunatics on Lake St. Clair up here but I can understand others possible hesitation. About 3 years ago a bunch of us from our chapter went to the Lake Cumberland area and boated for 3 days on 3 different lakes down there. It was organized by one of our chapter transplants who now lives there permanently. It was a blast, we got to see the fantastic houseboats that are down there, the scenery was awesome. we even invited Alan Jackson but he was unable to be in the area when we were. Woody Palooza would be just fine with me there. How do we get the ball rolling?

  45. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    Maybe someone with the ability to get this done will read this and step up. It is the houseboat capitol of the world, some 1 ml. plus in cost, Some companies based around Somerset and Burnside have bellied up from the current economic conditions but still many many houseboats all over the lake as well as many fast boats. Dale Hollow is also nearby, a litter clearer water for KY. but not hardly as developed as Cumberland. It sure would be an exciting time for those in the hobby.

  46. ranger
    ranger says:

    Here I am…late as usual…i love going to the boat shows, love running out in new (to us) waters with other wooden boats…love the PEOPLE we gotten to meet, they are the best and can’t wait to see them again!

    some of the best times we have had are after the shows…we’ve had truck troubles and misc things like family meeting us from across the country that has kept us in the area an extra day or two and since we were shown the lakes or rivers…off we went for fun times on the water while everyone else was making their way home…dale hollow was fantastic for boating and golf…lake keowee in south carolina is amazing…7 waterfalls on the lake…

    this year we didn’t get to attend many shows (make that 1 so far…grrr) and we are going to be last minute maybes for Charlotte but we called Ed Longino and told him we WANT to be there and have our fingers crossed.

    work has kept us home this year, hopefully, things will pick back up and we’ll get to go more places next year.

    …so i’m thinking maybe some shows might be down in numbers this year but that doesn’t mean it’s because of lack of interest or desire…it’s the times, they suck! but i have no doubt that things will get better, they always do…

    in the meantime, keep putting the spectators in the boats!!!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks Ranger, you guys are great ambassadors for the hobby and hope you can get back to a few more events in the near future…

  47. Tommy holmes
    Tommy holmes says:

    I,m a few days late and a few $ short but wish to add:
    One reason you have to join ACBS to enter a show is to be covered under the insurance policy – which covers members only- and protects the local chapter/those people who volunteer all their time to put the show on forYOU.
    It,s unfortunate but it,s the way it is in today’s world for any event – and one that the CC club will be prudent to include if they are behind organizing a FREE event.
    For those questioning why shows are the way they are, I ask them to join the show committe and just see first hand the dumb, stupid, illogical stuff you have to deal with to put on an organized event . I suspect it is easier to make a web site – ouch. Just think if the web site had no rules, I could then type outside this little box, oh my.
    If you review the above comments, the more varied, the more organized, the must fit everyone boat show is the best and the hardest to accomplish, we need more volunteers and money -like – sunny land tav eras at every show.

    • Carl Garmhaus
      Carl Garmhaus says:

      Tommy, You are only partially right about the insurance. You do not have to be a member to enter an ACBS sponsored boat show, but the insurance covers the host club in case of a mishap. With the exception of the surcharge for non member exhibitors, we extend the same welcome for members and non members alike. Even with registration dollars and sponsor dollars most shows struggle to break even and ours is no exception.

      • Tommy holmes
        Tommy holmes says:

        It,s a technical point. If you are an ACBS member, the AC BS insurance for the boat show effects you. Your insurance is always the front runner. ACBS chapters generally don,t check your insurance. Letting non-members into th show opens liability. I,d suggest your chapter enforce the membership rule. Feel free to call the ACBS insurance agent for a discussion. CallHeadquarters for his number.

        • doug p
          doug p says:

          Insurance is one of those useless things and some show organizers state that it drives participants away.

          Or let’s have fun first, and then worry when we are personally sued. Check what the insurance will cover,…$ wise and whom is protected.

  48. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    I understand about the insurance thing to a point in our sue happy society but I have been to car and motorcycle shows all over our country and to my knowledge none have made people join the national club or the local club to participate for any reason, Are our boats that much more dangerous than cars/motorcycles ? Mt Dora/Taveras charges a very reasonable $5.00 per day for spectators with large crowds, a win win situation for all concerned, We just returned from Clayton, $15.00 per day there for way less people,boats and activities. I guess you can’t please all the people all the time.

  49. Mike Dovichi
    Mike Dovichi says:

    I have not been around boat shows for that long so perhaps this is or has been done already but here is a thought. What about finding a large enclosed building(s) and hold a boat show in the middle of winter. Except for the potential problems associated with hauling boats in winter, such a show could address some of the problems associated with summer boat shows. It also could help satisfy our hard to satisfy need to look at mahogony and chrome.
    Mike D.
    2-’47 CC Runabouts
    1-’57 Thompson
    1- Folkboat

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