Any doubts about whether boaters would respond to the date change of this year’s Progressive Cleveland Boat Show were dashed when crowds, including Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, lined the aisles of the IX Center over the weekend. end last.
DeWine’s visit gave many dealers and other industry exhibitors the opportunity to thank him for his crucial decisions to support the marine industry during the pandemic. While the marine industry has seen shutdowns in many other states, DeWine has classified Ohio’s boating industry as essential and it has continued to operate during the pandemic.
“We had the opportunity to share with Governor DeWine how his decision has positively impacted our marine business, all employees and our customers,” said Tom Mack, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association and founder of South Shore Marine. . “It was wonderful to see him enjoying our show.”
Traditionally held in January and last produced in 2020 just before the pandemic, the show did not take place in 2021. Moreover, its return to face-to-face this year for its 65e anniversary has been postponed to March to avoid the spread of the Omicron variant earlier this winter.
“The lines of traffic just to enter the parking lots were reminiscent of many great shows of the past,” said Jim Armington of the Buckeye Sports Center. “Obviously the crowds were very happy to have an in-person show return and best of all our boat sales are already confirming that. It was a great weekend.”
Despite some inventory and supply chain shortages, exhibiting dealers throughout Northern Ohio have always found effective ways to stage great displays of many new boat models and accessories. Additionally, the show was promoted with a record-breaking publicity campaign that reached the tri-state area. “It is now clear to me that any dealer who was not present at the show missed out on a real opportunity. We are thrilled to have exhibited,” Armington said.
“I have to admit our team had some real concerns when the show date was changed to March,” Mack revealed. “But as the show approached, you could feel a surge of energy, especially at the consumer level. Our customers were motivated, whether or not the date change was more difficult for us as retailers. It turned out to be a must see show, I know several dealerships had record sales even with less product available, and buyers seemed to understand why there was less product.
The variety of new and/or popular activities and entertainment aimed at boating families has contributed to the show’s success. “Boating is family fun,” said Michelle Burke, president of LEMTA. “We designed this show to reflect that, and that’s why people responded so well to the date change.”
Essentially, Burke expanded a reimagined show plan that she first unveiled in 2020, which resulted in a 12-year record attendance. Some of the more recent ideas used this year include: creating a paddle sports center with demonstration/test pool; hourly magic shows in an expanded “Kids Zone”; a pirate treasure hunt on Sunday; an expanded Great Lawn area with games adjacent to the Put-in-Bay Refreshment Center; a very first food truck rally; daily musical artists on the progressive main stage; new sailing duel simulators at the Sailing Center; the Toyota Tundra fishing stage with extended sessions; the Berkley Bass Aquarium with hourly sessions including kids-only clinics; and the return of the hugely popular Twiggy the water skier squirrel, among others.
If Cleveland is any indicator, two other major shows should anticipate good crowds this weekend. The Palm Beach Boat Show, an in-water event, opens Thursday in Palm Beach, Fla., and the Orlando Boat Show in Orlando, Fla. runs Friday through Sunday.