The Progressive Insurance Catawba Island Boat Show opened last weekend under sunny skies, and strong attendance provided encouragement for dealers starting the Lake Erie boating season.
Show manager Ken Alvey could not give an exact visitor number because there was no admission charge or ticketing, but he estimated the crowd at the Catawba Island Club in Port Clinton, Ohio, to be about 4,000.
“We do know that attendance was much better than last year, perhaps by up to 50 percent,” Alvey said. “Food sales were up each day, parking lots were filled earlier and the density of people on the docks was noticeably greater.”
The Lake Erie Marine Trades Association Educational Foundation sold every one of the 25 prints donated to the organization by local artist Ben Richmond, raising $1,185 for student scholarships.
“I was very pleased with the response to the art sale,” said James Stouffer, chairman of the foundation and chief executive of the Catawba Island Club. “The complete sellout, along with proceeds from a wine tasting on Saturday, is going to help us give an extra scholarship or two this year and may inspire future fundraising efforts.”
A refreshed marketing effort included the production of a “virtual boat show” posted on YouTube, which helped to spread the word about the show’s exhibitor lineup.
The virtual show was produced by the staff at Great Lakes Scuttlebutt Magazine and included interviews with each exhibitor, who was encouraged to share the link to the interview with customers.