ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Boat show a glimpse of spring

It brought the promise of spring and eventual summer weather, very enticing factors when the temperature is single digit and the windchill hits 30 below.

It brought the promise of spring and eventual summer weather, very enticing factors when the temperature is single digit and the windchill hits 30 below.
The annual Duluth Boat, Sport and Travel Show provided a sneak preview of just about every kind of non-winter outdoor activity available.
Fishing and boating were the main fare, but the show touched on almost every other aspect of recreation in the Northland. Plus, there were tons of unrelated products to grab the attention of anyone not mesmerized by new boats, campers and other vehicles.
Coattailing on the main attractions were cell phone companies, investment counselors, casinos, clothing, cosmetics and artwork. There were also colleges, cleaning products and plenty of places to go.
There were so many Canadian resorts and fishing camps represented, that Canadian Customs had an information booth. Domestic wilderness was showcased as well, with plenty of agents promoting hunting and fishing in Montana, Colorado, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Minnesota.
No one was talking winter as the Friday crowd flowed from booth to booth and milled around the floor-based fleets of brand new boats.
Fueled by draft beer, mini-doughnuts and other DECC cuisine, the crowd gathered tons of flyers, brochures and business cards while fingering fishing gear and climbing over pontoon boats and portable docks.
It was a rare chance to explore the inside of a fancy camper or stand at the helm of a cabin cruiser.
Some metal flake finish bass boats had lake anglers drooling, while a sleek Donzi speedboat attacked and awed a younger crowd.
Parked between the boats were motorcycles, ATVs and 4x4s.
"The crowd has been about the same as the last couple of years," said Dawn Houdek-Walz, director of sales and marketing for Minneapolis Metro North Convention and Visitors Bureau. The organization had a booth stocked with information on attractions and accommodations in its area.
The city of Eagan had a similar booth.
Live entertainment on the main stage held the attention of a small crowd, but most seemed bent on staying as close as possible to the fancy boats and related gear.
Another type of boat was drawing a steady stream of visitors. Craig Schowatter of Washburn, Wis., had a rowing shell on display. The craft is kind of a floating exercise machine, just the thing to work off those mini-doughnuts and beer.
Schowatter is with the South Shore Rowing Center, which has been part of the show for the past seven years.
"It gets a little better each year," he said. "More people come up and say they saw you last year."
Schowatter has been involved in the Duluth Rowing Club project and thinks the sport is poised to take off in the Twin Ports area.
Show-goers were also treated to a couple of traditional attractions, as many stopped to hear the spiels for miracle knives and magic spot removers.
One thing they didn't hurry to do was leave the show's "warm weather ahead" environment. That meant bundling up, leaving the DECC and trudging back to winter.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.