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Hartford show reports attendance gain

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Amid another wave of bitter cold weather during a tough winter in the northern climes, the 45th CMTA Hartford Boat Show saw a slight increase at the gate and steady foot traffic through a four-day show that wrapped on Sunday.

“The dealers reported more than 100 major sales and almost $5 million in product sold,” Connecticut Marine Trades Association president Grant W. Westerson said in a statement. “Dealers saw many buyers coming back to relook and then purchase, indicating a change in their current economic outlook. The impact to the entire Greater Connecticut marketplace will be felt throughout the season.”

This year’s show had 355 boats — the largest was 38 feet — and an estimated $11 million in product on display in the 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

“We sold out our exhibitor space and had to turn some people away, which killed me, but it’s a good sign,” Westerson said.

Exhibitors said the more serious buyers tend to come during the opening days of the show, but the show is attracting potential buyers, with a trend toward dayboating.

“Big bowriders seem to be a sales trend right now,” said Mark Passeri, president of A&S Boats, a South Windsor, Conn., dealer that carries Chaparral, Moomba, Supra Sun Tracker and Tracker boats and Suzuki engines.

“We’ve already had discussions with two people who I consider to be serious buyers,” Passeri said Friday afternoon. Both of his potential buyers were eyeing Chaparrals: the 327 SSX hybrid cabin boat with bowrider seating and the 270 Signature trailerable cruiser.

After years of holding this indoor show the week before the Super Bowl, next year the Hartford Boat Show moves back two weeks. It is scheduled for Feb. 5-8, 2015.

The change, Westerson said, is being made because the New York Boat Show is moving its dates to late January. The Hartford show will benefit by moving farther away from the year-end holidays and will gain the Monday of show week for additional setup time, Westerson said.

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