As beautiful fallish weather enveloped Metropolitan Beach in Harrison Township along the shores of our spectcular Lake St. Clair for the final two days of the Michigan Boating Industries Association 2nd Annual Boating & Outdoor Festival, the people came out in droves to experience it all personally.
The boats, both sail and power, boat hoists, lifts, and portable docks, canvas and sail makers, boat dealers and marina operators, food vendors, artists of all kinds, ATVs, two and three wheelers, canoes and kayaks, the Kids Zone, Dora the Explorer, the Cadillacs, the Can-Am race course, the Sea-Doo test drives, the Jimmy Buffett style music emanating from the Tiki Bar, all combined to make for another successful MBIA event.
This was the general concensus of everyone we encountered, including Jay Cooper of St. Clair Yacht Sales in Kean’s Marina on the Detroit River. “The last couple of days have been great. We have sold most of our boats, along with some spots in the Marina. Our improvements are bringing them in, as it’s a family resort.” He chuckled as we chatted about the inclement weather on Friday at the Show. “The first boat we sold was in the rain! It’s been a very good show.”
“The MBIA does a very nice job on these shows,” says Chuck Baumgarten of KBE Hoist in New Baltomore.. “And we’ll continue to exhibit as long as they are producing these shows.” Baumgarten goes on to explain that, “There isn’t a boat here that I can’t provide a hoist to lift it.” As the builder and manufacturer of their own steel hoists, with their own product line, that can be customized from 3,000 to 65,000 pounds, he feels KBE has the market covered. “Right now we are completing a 60,000 pound hoist at Gregory Marine.”
The folks at O’Keefe’s Reef from Irons, Michigan have their own product line, too, of shirts, hats, shorts and sweat pants and more, with their own particular sayings. We chatted for a few moments with Dan Belman, whose wife, Sally does all of the embroidery on their attire. He laughed as he shared that, “We have the world record fish (that have been caught) on tees.” Definitely a plus for a Show held in an area which boasts of World Class Fishing, per Byron Kahlia of Jimmy’s Boats & Baits.
And once you have to take your boats out of the water, the folks at First Mate Marine Service in Harrison Township, Ron & Jill Fulgenzi, will be happy to be of assistance. Jill also let us know that, “If you schedule winterizations and shrink wraps before October 15, there are discounts available. And mechanical work over the winter, from December 1 through March 31, cuts the labor rate considerably.”
Perhaps another winter consideration for your boat is the canvas. Dockside Canvas Company is “one of the biggest in North America,” according to Lynn Hodell. She’s been with them for 13 years and shares that, “It’s a great team!” They also are able to do awnings and upholstry, and are local in Harrison Township.
Another local Harrison Township business is MacRay Harbor. Jerry Glendening, Member Services Sales Coordinator, took a moment to explain some of the services provided. One of the things that caught our attention was the Rendezvous Cruises. A group of boaters goes on an excursion, and the excursion includes a boat with an official Captain. In that way, everyone can come along, even new boaters, and enjoy trips they may not normally take without years of exprience. “We are looking to connect with Commanders and Commodores of various organizations to spread the word.”
Interestingly, Bob Krieg, Sr., Commander of the St. Clair Shores Sail and Power Squadron walked up at that moment. Jerry had the package in hand, and passed it right along to Bob, who was on his way to the United States Power Squadron booth. The USPS is a boating safety organization, which holds classes from Basic Boating up through Celestial Navigation. If you have ever considered shooting the stars, then the USPS is the place to get started.
If you get started in Pedego Junction, then you definitely have a jump on the competition. Pedego Junction, another local Harrison Township business, is the place to go for an electric bike. Gregory “Panama” Krzeminski explains that, “The bikes plug into a wall outlet and you can travel 20 miles without peddling.” And for the technicalities,”There is a 36 volt lithium polymer battery and a 500 watt brushless rear hub motor. They have front disc brakes, 12 gauge spokes, and a one year warranty, along with a three year warranty on the battery.”
He continued on saying, “You can ride them like a normal bike (pedal them) and the company stands 100% behind our customers. Our motto is Hello Fun!”
In that vein, we ran across Ray Underwood, who was promoting the Boaters’ Association of Michigan, a group affiliated with the MBIA. When asked to say a few words, Ray simply smiled with twinkling eyes and said, “Happiness is boating!”
Brian Kelly with Sun Sport Marine, which is located in the Sun Dog Marina, also in Harrison Tonwship, was definitely happy to show us around a beautiful Chaparral boat. “The Chapparals are made in Georgia. We also sell Formulas which are made in Indiana.” Continuing he told us he was taking classes in Storm Water Management and was additionally involved in composting and helping others to get involved, too.
Getting involved was what happened at the Advantage Foods booth when the crowd started to smell their wood fired stove, in which they were making pizza, with dough they homemade. The aroma filled the air and the folks went in and checked out their ribs, sausage, burgers and fries, too, and walked out with big smiles on their faces.
Julie Champion, Supervising Interpreter (formerly known as a Naturalist) at Metropolitan Beach had a huge smile on her face as she spoke about the programs and activities available at Metro Beach, as the locals call it. She talked about the Kids Day to Get Out and Play and the newly “opened” Lake St. Clair Coastal Water Trail Paddling Routes.
The Coastal Water Trail includes highlights for launch sites, landings/ports-of-refuge, landings/marina amenities, channel markers, public parks/waterfront, marina districts, urban centers, historical/natural features, and caution notations for high volume, motorized boat traffic. The trail runs in Macomb County from the foot of Eight Mile north along the shoreline curving into Anchor Bay to the St. John’s Marsh, where you can connect up with the St. Clair River Water Trail, and. across to the St. Clair Flats. There are also some notations south of the Macomb County Line, down to the Detroit River.
“This is all wonderful as there is so much more for the kids and families to do,” Julie commented.
More to do at Metropolitan Beach is on the list of Thomas Knuth, Park Operations Manager. “This has been a great show and we are already making plans for next year. It is rewarding to work with the MBIA as they promote boating in Michigan and they represent their membership.”
Representing the membership, if you will, of the ATV riders was Chris McPeek of K & W Cycle. K & W is located in Utica, was established in 1963 and their motto is “We love to ride!” As a Can-Am and Sea-Doo dealer, along with seven others, Chris explains, “We did good at the Show. We sold some units and all of the test rides were great! There was a great turn out and it was definitely worth coming.”
Jeff Henderson of Harrison Marine, Inc. in Harrison Township spoke about the turn out saying that “Thursday and Friday the turn out was affected by the weather. Saturday and Sunday made up for it.” He continued on saying that he felt “The MBIA is the best thing that has happened in Southeast Michigan.”
Harrison Marine, Inc is a Repossessed Boat Sales Outlet and Jeff shared that he gets bids on about 200 to 300 boats a year. Having seen an article in the New York Times about Jeff and his business, with a picture, we chatted about it for a moment. He laughed as he said he had been featured in an article in a Toyko newspaper, too. Words gets around.
The word has gotten around about the Michign Boating Industries Association taking over the operation of the Boating and Outdoor Festival. And per Pete Beauregard, Jr., Owner of Colony Marine Sales located in St. Clair Shores, “This is the best attendance in the last ten years. It’s a very good show and the weather cooperated on the weekend. There were a lot of new poeple who were sincerely interested and we did some business. We have demo rides scheduled for after the show with some serious folks and it all starts there. The first step was fantastic. The MBIA has made a difference selling a life style and it is a real smart move.”
With that thought, we moved toward the Show’s exit. On the way out, we ran into the folks from Wilson Marine, who told us, “We are happy.” And, we think we heard something about a hot tub on the agenda, too.
Steve Remias of MacRay Harbor, along with his agenda, as this year’s Chairman of the MBIA, was definitely smiling. “It was a very good Show from all that I’ve heard from everyone,” he remarked as he headed into the MBIA Office.
The immediate Past Chairman of the MBIA, Eric Foster of Belle Maer Harbor, also crossed our path. Eric tells us, “The Show ended with great weather. It has been a great two days (as the weather had improved). We are very happy and we are getting very positive feedback. With lots of boats in the water, the BRP Ultimate Playground, and Artists Alley, to name a few things, we are continuing to grow and we are looking forward to an even better Show next year.”
The last of the very positive feedback, as we headed toward the car, came from the RSIG Security folks who reported that it was a great show. Very good news there, too.
“Kudos all around” to everyone involved for a fabulous 2nd Annual Boating and Outdoor Festival.