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Seattle Boat Show: Full Speed Ahead

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The Northwest Marine Trades Association has announced “the wait is over” as it moves full throttle with plans for the return of its big winter in-person boat show, traditionally the largest such event in the Pacific Northwest.

“Our Seattle Boat Show, presented by Union Marine, is back,” says NMTA president George Harris. “We’re excited to announce our show will again hoist its flag for the traditional 9-day run, February 4 – 12, 2022.”

While some major market shows have announced they won’t be brought back this winter (Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta among them) others are recognizing the importance of “getting back in the game” as the Cleveland Boat Show’s Michelle Burke puts it. “The honeymoon is over. Our competitors for the recreational dollar are back. We must stimulate continued enthusiasm in all the new boaters we sold during the pandemic. We need to refill our sales funnel, too, and we’re convinced the return of our winter show in Cleveland is the best way to do it,” she maintains.

To boost the Seattle show’s appeal, the on-water portion of the event will move to the Port of Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina. Formerly held at Chandler’s Cove, the new location will be more convenient for showgoers. “It’s less than two miles from Lumen Field,” says Harris, “so transit time aboard our continuous fast shuttles will give attendees more time to cruise the entire show.”

Locations aside, Seattle is also introducing a powerful new seminar format for 2022. A major draw of the Seattle show has always been its extensive lineup of seminars, among the most wide-ranging of any boat show in the industry. This year will include more than 70 seminars covering anchoring techniques, sail trim, no impact docking, diesel engine essentials, troubleshooting marine electrical systems, tides and currents, squidding, crabbing, shrimping, halibut and salmon fishing and much more.

“A big new addition to our seminars programs this year,” says Harris, “will be the recording of all the presentations that will later be made available, on demand, in the show’s new online Seminar Library.”

A $99 seminar ticket package that includes multi-day admissions to the show plus a boatload of goodies, including a copy of the Waggoner Guide, will be offered this year.

“Show attendees,” Harris continued, “who can’t make all the in-person seminars on their wish list will have access to the complete Seminar Library, which will remain available for 3 months following the show.

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The return of the Seattle show also marks another milestone. It’s the 75th Anniversary of the founding of NMTA, first known in 1947 as Northwest Marine Industries, Inc.

“We took this opportunity to dust off box after box of old photos, slides and clippings,” says Harris, “and we found many gems that reminded us of just how deeply boating and fishing are ingrained in our northwest lifestyle. We could see how our Seattle Boat Show has always been a celebration of boating and a place for boaters to rendezvous with friends, share memories, plan summer adventures and reminisce about past adventures and the good old days. We’re excited to bring that back.”

According to show director Katie McPhail, initially 258 NMTA members are already set to celebrate the show’s return with 166 different new and brokerage boat brands to be on display at the show’s two locations.

Despite supply chain and inventory headaches, the big response to the return of the industry’s fall show circuit demonstrated that exhibitors find creative ways to be where the action is. And the record public attendance at most of those shows clearly points to an expected healthy turnout for the winter show circuit set to kick-off in Cleveland, January 13-17. 

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