Bay Bridge Boat Show kicks off boating season

— The Bay Bridge Boat Show was back this past weekend and bigger than it has been in recent memory.

More than 250 boats and 100 exhibitors where on hand Friday through Sunday at the Bay Bridge Marina in Stevensville, giving attendees the chance to look at everything from portable, fold-up boats to $4 million yachts.

“It’s just nice to be out in the nice weather and looking at new boats,” said Matt Hinton, 43, who lives in New York but returned to his home state for the show.

The show was the largest it has been since 2008. Show organizers estimate they had close to 10,000 visitors over the weekend.

“I’m glad to see an uptick in Maryland business,” said Amy Blue, 40, of Severna Park.

According to Paul Jacobs, the president and general manager of Annapolis Boat Shows, there is a very simple reason for the growth.

Bay Bridge Boat Show

Bay Bridge Boat Show

The annual Bay Bridge Boat Show in Stevensville.

The annual Bay Bridge Boat Show in Stevensville.

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“People are buying boats again,” he said.

And it’s not the massive 75-footers that are making the difference, but rather the 17-foot center console boats that appeal to families.

“That middle income group seems to be coming back again,” he said.

“I like the Key West Center Console,” said Edward Rich, 44, of Severna Park. “I’m actually entertaining the idea of getting one.”

One of the more popular models was the Carolina Skiff DLV being sold by Pasadena Boatworks.

“For everyday people, this is the kind of boat that they can afford,” said operations manager Nick Doetsch, whose company made 10 sales over the weekend.

Big or small, the shows are an important part of the local economy. A 2014 study indicated the Annapolis Boat Shows bring in more than $112 million to the city’s economy.

“These shows in the springtime really support our local dealership network,” Jacobs said.

One should not underestimate the enjoyment factor when it comes to these events.

“Boat shows are supposed to be fun,” he said.

The next big event is the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show, which begins on Friday and will feature more than 100 sailboats on display through Sunday. For more information, visit www.annapolisboatshows.com.


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