The most noticeable “things” at the Michigan Boating Industries Association’s 2nd Annual Boating & Outdoor Festival were the big smiles that were everywhere. From the crowds attending, to the boat dealers, to the ice cream sales people, to the kids in the Bouncy Houses, to the food vendors, to the Can-Am guys, to the artists, to the RSIG Security staff, and even the MBIA staff, everyone had big smiles and twinkling eyes.
With a little tricky weather on Friday, which improved greatly for Saturday and Sunday, the word around town seemed to be reminiscent of Emerson, Lake and Palmer singing, “You gotta see the show. It’s a dynamo!” And that was exactly the case.
Starting with the revised show entrance, which was more centered and allowed for an improved traffic flow, the MBIA and the Metropolitan Beach Staff did an awesome job in the planning, arranging and set up of the Show.
According to the MBIA, “Aisles were full with people staying longer to enjoy the event and seriously shop products.”
Lindy Rymill of Avon Sailboats Ltd in Rochester, agrees. “There were more people (this year) that were interested in getting into sailing and kayaking and they had the money to spend. They were looking for someone who cared about their needs and someone to educate them about the sport – someone to help them get into the sport. They were friendly and kind, not kicking tires or wasting the day; they wanted to know what they needed to buy.”
And buying seemd to be a big part of the show. The vendors we encountered all had positive comments and positive sales numbers. According to Neil Williams, Director of Exhibit Sales, “Exhibitors were pleased at the number of consumers and the quality of the buyers at the event.”
For instance Chip Miller of Miller Marina in St. Clair Shores said, “We always do good here. The MBIA does a great job and everyone is in a great mood, happy and having fun.
Brad Simmons of the Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative reports that, ” People are coming out to look, touch, taste and feel the outdoor lifestyle that we’re presenting, from kayaks to yachts to ATVs.”
Bob and Rob Kotowski, father and son team, of Lake Shore Boat Top, which is located inside Kean’s Marina explained, “We are glad we came. We always do good at this Show and it gives us the chance to get our face in front of the public with pictures and samples.”
Doyle Sails Detroit representative, Eric Ryan shares that “We make sails for the big boats in the Caribbean and a very nice market share locally. With our quality, service and pricing, we are striking a balance and we are glad to be at the Show.” He went on to explain that “Doyle made the world’s largest flying American flag for a VFW Post in Ohio.” How cool is that.
Speaking of cool, George and Debbie Matthews came up from Toledo, where they boat on Lake Erie, to see the Show.
“We went to the Cedar Point Boat Show and this is a lot better. There is more to do and it’s more of a festival.” They went on to share that they were checking out their options for the possibility of a new boat.
And as our boaters are coming from other parts of our Great Lakes, Alan Northrop, helped by Mom, Kate, of Great Lakes Iron Art has fabulous renditions of the Great Lakes, that Alan makes using satellites for accuracy. Check out the slideshow and the picture of Lake St. Clair. While not officially a “Great Lake,” it has been called the Sixth Great Lake and the Heart of the Great Lakes (look at the shape) in many places and times.
Kara and Craig Fields of Troy were so impressed with Alan’s rendition of the entire Great Lakes, they bought it. They are going to put it in their family room, which is decorated in a nautical decor.
The nautical decor usually includes pirates and this Show was no different. Our pirate, Sammy Finney, is a lady, on stilts from Express Yourself Body Art. She shares that they also do air brushing and face painting.
Sammy crossed our path on two occasions. The first was with Dave Bratto, who is a member of the Harrison Township Board of Trustees. Bratto shares, “This is a great show, very impressive. It is a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be And it is very diversified and very impressive.” If you look at the slideshow, you can see how Sammy was trying to pillage his popcorn.
Our second encounter was priceless. Sammy on her stilts stands 8’2″ high. One of our youngest attendees, Cora, was at the Show with her grandfather, David Slovik, who was from Belleville. As she looked up and up and up to see Sammy’s face, she wasn’t quite sure what to make of her. As we chatted with her grandfather and Sammy laughed with us, Cora began to smile and started to stand on her toes to take Sammy’s hand. This is a definite fun picture from the Show.
Slovik also shared that, “This is my first walking Boat Show.” He went on to explain that he had previously purchased two boats, so he was definitely taking in the sights.
The sight of Dora the Explorer walking down the River Walk made everyone smile, again. Dora paused a moment for a few pictures and had to keep moving along so that she could see all her fans who had come to the Show.
Bill Bishop of BI Marine – Dock and Lift Sales/Service had come to the show again this year as a vendor. He reports, “The Show is better this year. There is a good crowd that is bringing in the business along with good leads.”
Judy Krueger of Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales, who have offices in St. Clair Shores, Catawba, Charlevoix, Chicago, and Grand Haven, agrees, telling us “We have five new Vikings on order! There has been a lot of good traffic.”
And with that very positive news, we are going to pause and put together Part 2 about the crowds and fun at the 2nd Annual Boating & Outdoor Festival, where there will be more boats, more sails, and more adventure. Stay tuned.