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Browse the boats at Catawba Island show

John Benson • May 12, 2015 at 6:28 PM

Want to go?

• WHAT: Catawba Island Boat Show

• WHEN: 12-6 p.m.April 29, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 30, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1

• WHERE: Catawba Island Club, 4235 East Beach Club Road, Port Clinton

• COST: Free

• INFO: catawbaislandboatshow.com

Here’s a news flash: around here, we love boating.

In fact, according to watercraft registration figures, the region has one of the highest numbers of boats per capita and greatest densities of boats per acre of water in the entire Great Lakes basin. More so, boating household expenditures in Erie, Ottawa and Huron counties are eight to ten times greater than the state average.

It’s this level of enthusiasm that drives organizers of the seventh annual Catawba Island Boat Show, which takes place April 29 through May 1 at the Catawba Island Club in Port Clinton.

“It’s a free show completely open to the public, and kind of a way to get everyone ready for the boating season,” said Lake Erie Marine Trades Association Communications Manager Mike DiLorenzo. “A lot of the boat dealers want to end their winter with a little bit of a bang, get things moving right into summer and hopefully kind of jumpstart the season.”

Helping that jumpstart is the popular Catawba Island Boat Show, which averages roughly 2,000 visitors during its three days. The biggest appeal for current or potential boat owners is the idea of actually taking a power craft or sailboat for a test drive on Lake Erie. Originally conceived as a Catawba Island Club members-only affair, the club decided to expand the successful event a few years ago by opening for free to the public.

“It’s really kind of taken off since then,” DiLorenzo said. “This year we’ve completely sold out the show and it’s probably going to be the biggest in its whole seven-year history.”

This is good news for boat makers and enthusiasts having survived the tough economic times of the previous few years. Visitors can expect roughly 10 boat dealers with boats in the water, as well as 20 accessory booths on land.

Something new ambiance-wise this year is Firelands Winery will be offering wine tasting from 1 to 5 p.m. April 30. Among the numerous Lake Erie Marine Trades Association boat shows put on throughout the year, including the large wintertime I-X Center event and the popular end-of-summer Cedar Point shindig, the Catawba Island Boat Show has grown into something unique.

“This is just different because it’s free and it kind of creates a more casual atmosphere,” DiLorenzo said. “Everyone is optimistic in the spring. Everyone is looking for a good year, and I think spirits will be high.”

The free Catawba Island Boat Show is scheduled for noon to 6 p.m. April 29, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 30 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 1 at the Catawba Island Club, 4235 East Beach Club Road, Port Clinton. For more information, visit catawbaislandboatshow.com.

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