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Boat show report

Here's a compilation of reports from the recent Orange County Boat Show and Maine Boatbuilders Show.

Organizers of the 17th annual Orange County (Calif.) Boat Show say they were pleased with attendance, which increased two of the three days the show was held.

The show ran April 3-5 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

"We didn't expect it, but our 17th annual Orange County Boat Show attendance was stronger day-to-day compared to a year ago," SCMA executive director Dave Geoffroy said in a statement. Both Friday and Saturday traffic numbers were up compared to a year ago.

Friday's increase was in double digits and Saturday was up 9 percent from 2008.  Sunday's 2009 attendance, however, was off slightly from the previous year's total, organizers said.

Overall, 2009 pulled approximately as many visitors as it did in 2008 in spite of running three days as opposed to four in 2008. Specific numbers were not released.

"Early reports from the show floor indicate that sales ranged from fair to good, which is an encouraging sign for the rest of the year," said Geoffroy. "There was no question that buying prospects came through the door and they were looking for exceptional deals on boats and accessories."

According to preliminary consumer exit interviews at the show, three factors stood out as positives. The first was the significant reduction in gasoline prices in the Southern California area from one year ago. Second, many show visitors took advantage of the twilight admission special that offered half-price tickets after 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings.

Third, the celebrity appearance of Gretchen Rossi from the show, "The Real Housewives of Orange County" to raise charitable donations for the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Society played well with the media and delighted many boat show attendees who are fans.

"I think this boat show lifted the spirits of many exhibitors," added Geoffroy. "It was pretty obvious from the mood of the crowd that recreational boating is still very much in their plans for the months ahead."

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The 2009 Maine Boatbuilders Show saw an increase in attendance from last year's event, organizers report.

There were a total of 5,967 attendees and 202 exhibitors, according to Phin Sprague, of Portland Yacht Services, which organizes the show. This attendance is an increase of 1 percent from 2008. The show ran March 20-22.

"Given the circumstances, we are going to declare this attendance a major victory and proof that there are people in New England that are not going to let a little recession rip us away from our love," Sprague said in a statement.

Plans are under way for a 2010 show, he said.


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