Overall attendance declined 4 percent from last year because of rainy weather, but organizers of the Boating & Outdoor Festival at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Michigan said many exhibitors reported that sales and leads increased from the previous year.
The Michigan Boating Industries Association said attendance was 10,956 for the four-day festival, which ended Sunday. There were 120 exhibiting companies. Hundreds of boats were on display in the water and on land as the show grew to accommodate increased demand for docks in the marina.
“While the weather deterred our Thursday and Friday crowds, the weekend had a great turnout,” show manager Nicki Polan said in a statement. “We’re pleased at the success of the event and seeing boat sales continue to increase in Michigan. Excellent support from our local media helped us, as well.”
“We were selling boats in the rain,” said Rick Velger, co-owner of Hideaway Yacht Sales. “We sold more boats than last year and the traffic through our exhibit increased with boaters who were ready to buy.”
“Compared to last year, there were noticeably more powerboaters interested in taking up sailing, as well,” said John Siwicki, a yacht broker at Port Sanilac Marina, a sailboat dealer in Michigan. “This show was well attended this year by quality buyers and had an exciting atmosphere with lots of entertainment.”
Michigan is the third-largest boating market in the country; $650 million was spent in 2013 on new boats, motors, trailers and accessories. The industry has a $7.4 billion impact on Michigan’s economy.
“After years of pent-up demand, we attribute the improving Michigan economy to the increase of boat sales,” Polan said. “People in Michigan are passionate about boating and fishing.”