The 21st annual Southeast U.S. Boat Show, which organizers thought was slated to open Friday in Jacksonville, is off, shocking dealers who had reserved space and planned for the annual event.
The city of Jacksonville is saying that the boat show was never scheduled, although organizers have been running ads and dealers had already bought space.
Jimmy Hill, president of Current Productions and one of the organizers of the event, told News4Jax that when organizers tried to move into the show on Monday, they were locked out. Hill told the TV station that organizers owed the show money from last year and were late on payments, but had settled the debt in January.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said in an email to a prospective exhibitor that was obtained by Trade Only Today that “while some media reports have stated that the city cancelled the show, the 2017 boat show was never scheduled with the City of Jacksonville.”
“So we don’t have a boat show,” Lisa Almeida, Freedom Boat Club franchise owner in the area, told Trade Only Today. “I feel bad for dealers because, of course, they paid a lot more money than I did — tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases. And I feel sad for the city. It’s the only event we have that showcases the waterways.”
Trade Only Today contacted a person in the city of Jacksonville’s special events department on Tuesday, and was referred to another person in the department who was in meetings and has not returned a request for comment.
Trade Only Today also did not receive a reply from Hill after seeking comment on Tuesday.
“While we value our long-standing relationship with the Southeast U.S. Boat Show, Current Productions had failed to make final payments to the city for their 2016 event, which did not allow them to reserve 2017 dates,” Jacksonville public affairs director Marsha Oliver said in a statement issued to the TV station.
“For nearly a year (June 2016), the city had been in communications with Current Productions about this and offered a payment plan, alternative options and collection attempts, which resulted in a bounced check by Current Productions,” the statement from Oliver said. “We have even facilitated communications with them and Danny Wimmer Presents to determine a potential solution that would support both interests. It is my understanding that these efforts have been unsuccessful.”