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Besides showcasing hundreds of new boat models and marine accessories, the Mobile Boat Show also includes workshops and activities for the whole family.
By Catherine Rainey/Contributing Writer
All hands on deck! Avast, ye landlubbers! If you lived in the days of swashbuckling pirates, this cliché might be something you’d hear while on a wooden ship. Nowadays, you’re more likely to simply appreciate the sound of the waves and the call of the wildlife that live among the reeds. Not to mention the wind in your hair and the salt (or fresh) water in your face. Getting the boating bug yet?
Journey on down to the annual Mobile Boat Show the weekend of Feb. 8-10. Not only will you be able to shop around for your very own seaworthy vessel, you can bring the whole family along for a fun-filled day of related workshops and activities.
“There are lots of entertaining and educational special events for families and kids,” said Melissa Miller, marketing director at Gulf Coast Shows. “The Alabama Marine Resources Department brings touch tanks filled with live species from our waters to let kids ‘touch and explore’ native marine life in a safe environment and answers the many questions they have.”
The expert staff from 5 Rivers Delta Center provide an unforgettable experience as they show off the brilliant diversity of our local ecosystems, from our rivers to estuaries to the marine environments that define the Gulf Coast.
But this boat show won’t just be representing aquatic animal life. Labrador retrievers will exhibit their diving talents in a game called “Fetch and Fish.” This event is sure to be a splashing good time as the dogs dive into a 60-foot-long long water-filled tank.
Additionally, children “can participate in [the] ‘Kids 101’ program and learn the basics of fishing, casting and water safety in a fun and interactive program hosted by regional guides and captains,” Miller said. “[They] can also fish in our live trout pond at the show and actually catch and release a fish back into the pond.” Various participants will have a chance to take home a free rod, reel and tackle box so they can practice what they learned and enjoy the fishing experience.
Obviously this show isn’t just for the kids.
“The Mobile Boat Show provides the best selection and representation of 2019 models of boats, motors and marine products, with hundreds of dealers and marine vendors from all over the United States,” Miller said.
This is the time “to see and experience all of the brands, as well as meet the manufacturers in one convenient setting,” she added. “Additionally, the show is a resource for anyone interested in putting in a boat lift, shopping for marine electronics and audio, having a custom tower built, learning about fishing, seeing the latest in tackle and fishing equipment, and many more products dedicated to boating and outdoor recreation.”
All vessels for fresh and salt water will be on show. From kayaks to canoes to personal watercraft and even an electric boat, you can find something that meets your needs and budget.
“Experts say that the early boat shows are the very best time of the year to do so,” Miller explained. “In addition to more than 19 large boat dealers from Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, we have over 100 booth vendors selling a variety of marine-related items, apparel and more. We always have the best of all the new 2019 products in the market that can be seen for the first time at our show.”
Once you’ve chosen your trusty new vessel, if you’ve yet to find your sea legs or even if you’re a boating veteran, you’ll benefit from a lineup of experts who will speak on a variety of topics related to boating and fishing in this area. In the “Guides Corner,” you’ll meet local experts and charter captains who are available to offer their best advice, tips and even secrets that only seasoned old sea dogs could harbor.
In 1952, local businessman John Damrich and sportscaster Jack Drees established the first Boat Show, which continues to be the longest-running on the entire Gulf Coast, from Tampa to Texas. In 1957, they expanded into Biloxi with its own version of the event. The Boat Show was sold to a company owned by Dan Miller of Gulf Coast Shows in 1991 after the Damrich’s death. The show took place each year at the Mobile Civic Center until the resurrection of the Mobile Convention Center, where it is currently held.
“The Mobile Boat Show continues to strive to grow boating and fishing and conservation in our area to preserve this opportunity for generations to come,” Miller said.
For more information on tickets and times, visit gulfcoastshows.com/mobile or call 251-478-7469.