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Attendance WAY up at Toledo Wooden Boat Show

It was all about boats this weekend along Toledo’s waterfront – boats you row, have motors, made of souped up cardboard, cute boats, runabouts, sailing vessels and single person e’nuff boats. They came in all sizes, colors and missions on the sea. And for the first time, the Port of Toledo’s transient docks were full off and on all weekend long.

There were arts and crafts areas, many with maritime motifs on display for sale. Breakfast served both weekend days. And of course four small boats for four families being constructed from the water up with expert supervision by master boat builder Carl Chamberlin. Chamberlin says the boats are admittedly small but they’ll support 200 pounds without trouble, meaning either mom or dad, or two kids…rowing of course.

There were plenty of opportunities to learn about recreational boating safety whether in a kayak or in a large sail boat, even the big fishing boats (where survival suits are mandatory).

The good weather (not too hot, not windy) also helped to pull more folks down to Toledo’s waterfront. The new pavilion gave a brand new place for live music to play, which it did, nearly non-stop Saturday and Sunday. Breakfast and non-stop hamburgers and hot dogs were also dished up.

Port of Toledo General Manager Bud Shoemake said that this year’s event was by far the best attended boat show in its history. He said former shows averaged around three thousand visitors over a weekend. Shoemake estimated the weekend crowd size this time to be near or even exceed five thousand.

Merchants and restaurants in the downtown reported good customer flow for those who were open. Barbecue ground zero for Toledo, Pig Feathers and their next-door Twisted Snout Brew Pub, reported brisk business all weekend. Stu Miller said they did very well, as they usually do with the wooden boat show.

Informal chats with show goers indicated a general across the board support for the event, the vast majority of them saying they’ll be back again next year. Many said they enjoyed the cozy small town environment, the new pavilion area with it’s nearly continuous offering of live music, readily available restrooms, proximity to the downtown and the railroad museum and the new transient docks along with many opportunities to learn about and observe boat building from the keel up.

Port Manager Bud Shoemake said as much of a success as it was, he added that they’re always looking for ways to better organize the boat show – to tweak it and give it better flow, both for content and visitor enjoyment.

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