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Attendance down at NMMA boat shows

The sight of younger attendees at shows is a positive sign.

The sight of younger attendees at shows is a positive sign.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association reported lower attendance at its most recent boat shows in Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago and Kansas City, but said all the events reported strong sales, leads and attendance.

The Progressive Insurance Atlanta Boat Show had a 5 percent decrease in attendance compared to 2018, but the trade association said the 28,860 visitors to the 2019 edition is up nearly 11 percent from the three-year average of 26,047. Atlanta held its first Boating Career Day with Lanier Technical College on Friday and the local CBS TV affiliate sent reporters to read nautical stories to kids. Coverage was featured on the CBS 46 and Fox 5 TV stations and in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The Progressive Insurance Nashville Boat Show’s attendance of 15,701 was down by 1 percent from 2018, but that was an improvement of 5 percent over the three-year average of 14,927. Featured attractions during the show included Twiggy the waterskiing squirrel, a concert that included country star Walker Hayes and Discover-a-Boat tour and a create your-own-crankbait center for kids. Media coverage included WKRN TV and Fox 17 TV stations and the Tennessean newspaper, which had stories on the front page and online.

At the Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show, attendance was down 12 percent from 2018 due to heavy snowfall, but there was positive feedback from exhibitors. New this year was a Chicago Maritime Arts Center Build-A-Boat experience, a remote-control boat pond and an interactive seafood experience with Oyster Bah’s head chef Donny Farrel giving oyster shucking demonstrations. The Chicago Tribune and ABC and NBC affiliates provided coverage.

The Progressive Insurance Kansas Boat Show had a 43-percent drop in attendance. Organizers said that was due to a Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff game on the same weekend. They said that attendance was up 27 percent on Thursday. Among the weekend’s highlights were the DockDogs competition and Progressive Boat Club’s interactive VR boat race game, seminars and a remote control docking pond. Local media providing coverage included NBC TV, the Kansas City Star and Kansas City Live. 

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