Winter Show Season Heats Up

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If there’s a time I most enjoy writing this blog, it’s winter boat-show season, when myriad reports give us a real sense what’s happening. And while I’ve never written that any major show may be going to the dogs, can I get a witness to what’s about to happen in Seattle?

George Harris, longtime president of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, has always been known among his peers (including me) for adding new ideas to the always successful Seattle Boat Show. So I can tell you this: Thursday it won’t be “yapless in Seattle!”

Instead, it will be all “Dogs on Deck” when dog-loving boat people leash up their furry first mates and head to the first indoor boat show to spotlight canine cruisers. The dogs will not only get to stroll the red carpets with their owners (no boarding boats, though), but also meet other owners and dogs and receive a custom dog tag from an on-site engraving machine. If that’s not enough, all dogs will also take home a free doggie bag featuring a collapsible water bowl, a frisbee, a bag dispenser and a treat. And there’s more.

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“We’ve also tied the promotion into our show’s 230 free seminars,” Harris says. “We’ll have three seminars on Thursday specifically addressing boating with your canine companion. We’re also partnering with our local boating magazine, 48 North, which will have a photo booth with props and be running a contest. The winning dog will be featured on the cover of the magazine. Moreover, dogs arriving after 5 p.m. for ‘Yappy Hour’ will take home a dog life vest courtesy of Connelly Watersports.”

We are seeing increased recognition of dogs as part of our American lifestyle these days, in restaurants, doggie parks and, more and more, aboard the family boat. So while the dogs strutting down the show aisles like a runway will likely have to put up with the “pup-arazzi,” there’s little doubt about the idea behind Dogs on Deck, which is garnering good media coverage. Indeed, Seattle Pup magazine declared the idea “pawsatively fantastic!”

The Seattle Boat Show is an indoor and outdoor event with boats on display in the Century Link event center and in the water at Chandler’s Cove on Lake Union. It runs through Saturday, Feb. 1, and includes a variety of features and attractions, from wine and beer theme nights and a family activities Aqua-Zone to free heated boat rides on Lake Union.

Hartford Boat Show sets record

There were no pups on the poop deck (OK, my last pun) when the Hartford Boat Show ran for its second year at Mohegan Sun Casino’s Earth Expo Center in Uncasville, Conn.

“We had some concerns the good crowds we attracted last year were, at least in part, because our show was in the new Earth Expo Center, and those visitors came to see the beautiful new facilities,” says Kathleen Burns, executive director of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association. “But more than 15,000 guests poured into our four-day show, up 5 percent from last year, and we’re delighted.”

Burns also attributes the success to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend dates, ease of access to Mohegan Sun and the reduced 2.99 percent sales tax on boats, engines and trailers, which combined to energize exhibitors and buyers.

“The show was a fantastic way to kick off our selling session,” said Tasha Cusson of Atlantic Outboard. “We sold a record number of boats and have had a very successful week following up from the abundance of leads.”

Anthony DiPietro of Capitol Equipment echoed Cusson’s optimism, and reported brisk sales at the show and follow-up. DiPietro is also chairman of CMTA. He noted that more than 35 dealers packed 95 brands of boats, motors and trailers into the Earth Expo Center. And aside from its unique location, the show boasted a variety of educational sessions and other features to draw visitors.

Burns also said CMTA is committed to promoting and preserving marine trades positions throughout the state. As such, the show featured a “Windows to the Future Career Center” that included postings of various employment opportunities within the marine trades. Visitors were invited to submit resumes on-site or thereafter.

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