Maryland’s Newest Boat Show Launches This Weekend

By Cheryl Costello

Things in the world of boat shows haven’t been the same since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. From cancellations to location changes, supply chain challenges to out of stock, it’s an exciting time to shop for a boat.

The Baltimore Progressive Boat Show is postponed to 2023, but some Upper Bay dealerships have decided to create an all-new Chesapeake Bay Boat Show in Baltimore County. It begins this weekend at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, and organizers say they’re thrilled with the success they’ve seen at the show.

bay bulletin caught up with dealers and salespeople on move-in day. The show opens to the public on Friday, January 21 and continues throughout the weekend.

“Boat shows are very important to our business; it’s where we meet our customers,” says Brian K. Schneider, vice president of Tradewinds Marina in Middle River and president of the Marine Trades Association of Baltimore County (MTABC).

He and other Maryland boat dealers began planning the show less than a year ago. “When we started this show, we were going to be happy if we were half sold. We completely sold this show.

The group of dealers involved with the show have been attending the Baltimore Boat Show at the downtown Baltimore Convention Center for over 30 years. But they wanted a change.

“We felt the need for a cheaper boat show for the consumer, for the public, for dealers with free parking,” says Dave Baumgartner, chairman of Riverside Marine in Essex. “We felt like we had to be guaranteed that we would have a boat show and that we would have it every year on an ongoing basis.”

With respect to current market conditions and inventory issues, Chesapeake Bay Boat Show organizers want to notify customers face-to-face.

Riverside Marine will display a 2022 Bayliner model at the show. “We have availability of these products on order within a reasonable timeframe,” says Baumgartner. “And it’s a very popular model for us.”

But there is a long wait for other brands as interest in boating and demand for boats during the pandemic continues. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) says 2022 should be another strong year for new boat sales, with projections topping last year by 3%.

“Across the industry, there are parts shortages everywhere – engines, windshields, resins,” says Schneider. But the good news from NMMA is that manufacturing productivity is picking up to meet demand for new boats, with boatbuilding output approaching pre-pandemic levels.

“We have quite a few boats available at our dealership that the customer could buy and have by April, May, June. We have boats that they can only get in mid to late summer,” says Baumgartner.

The show includes 22 boat dealers and more than 50 booths, most from the Chesapeake area. In addition to the boats, you can discover a fishing simulator in the lounge. “Two people can fish at the same time, as if you were going to catch a tuna. It’s captivating in real life,” says Schneider. There will be daily fishing seminars, food and door prizes.

Organizers are already planning for the show to continue next year. “We will have the same weekend. And as long as the fairground operators are happy with us, we will continue to have a boat show,” says Schneider.

Tickets are $10 and you can buy them online.

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