Georgia’s biggest day in boating is just around the corner: The Atlanta Boat Show is back and this year it’s adding plenty of new events.
Back for its 57th event, this year’s boat show — Jan. 10-13 at the Georgia World Congress Center — will feature a house boat for the first time in recent years, a Boats and Brews event for millenials, Touch-a-Boat for the kids, Launch a Boating Career Day for college students and of course, plenty of boats for sale.
“Last year we exceeded expectations with over 30,000 people,” said show manager Kevin Murphy. “We had over 15,000 people that came to the show on Saturday last year, so we have pretty high expectations to get at least 25,000 people to the show, and I know exhibitors have high expectations to sell a lot of boats at the show.”
There will be plenty of big names, Singleton Marine, Atlanta Marine, WaterSports Central and Boating Atlanta, at this year’s show. There will be plenty of local names like Port Royale Marina, Browns Bridge Dock Co., Gainesville Marina and Lakeside Marine and Motorsports, too.
Atlanta Boat Show
What: Boat show with 600-plus of the newest boats and the latest in marine accessories and products
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 10-11, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 12, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 14
Where: Georgia World Congress Center, Hall A, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW, Atlanta
How much: $12 in advance online; $15 for ages 13 and up at the door; free for children 12 and younger when accompanied by a paying adult
Tickets: HereMore info: Online
With the economy in good shape right now, Murphy said more people have been making it to the boat show in recent years. Having it in a city like Atlanta has helped, too.
“Downtown Atlanta is changing quite a bit and growing and there’s a younger clientele that is downtown and starting to get active,” Murphy said. “And, the boating is done at the lakes, like an hour from here.”
He said people from outside Georgia have started coming to the boat show, which has in turn, drawn exhibitors from out of state. It gives people more options, he said.
“In good times you’re going to have a lot of people out looking for boats,” Murphy said.
Brent Pearson, operations manager with TEI Industries, which owns Port Royale Marina just over Browns Bridge in Forsyth County, will be at the boat show, where he said they’ll sell dozens of boats.
“Any of the major dealers in town are going to be there,” Pearson said. “It probably accounts for 10 percent of our annual sales. So you’ve got to do it.”
He said the boat show is the place to be if you’re in the market for a new boat. Many of the manufacturers throw in special deals you don’t find throughout the year.
But even if you’re not looking to purchase, Murphy said they try to make the event a spectacle each year.
“We like to create a family-fun, educational environment,” Murphy said. “Even if you’re not a boater, you can come down to the show and have some fun and dream and look and get involved with other aspects of boating.”
The Boats and Brews event on Thursday and Friday will feature $5 valet parking, $5 tickets to the show and a $5 flight of Red Hare Brewing beer for anyone coming in after 5 p.m.
For the kids, there will be passports available so they can get stamps and different points throughout the show.
And for the first year, the Atlanta Boat Show is partnering with Lanier Technical College to host a career day 9 to 11 a.m. Friday for anyone interested in getting into a boating-related trade. It will carry no charge for students who bring a resume. Students will learn what it takes to get their start in the boating industry and join in on a Q-and-A session while meeting with exhibitors at the show.
Georgia in the 10th-busiest state for boat and equipment sales in the nation. Each year, Georgians spend $632 million on boats, engines, trailers and accessories, according to Lanier Tech. Those sales and the boating sector in general support 17,500 jobs in the state.
“When I see the kids come in, sitting on a Jet Ski and laughing and smiling and having a good time and I see college kids or high school kids or younger millennials coming in and getting into boating for the first time, or asking questions about the future of boating, I get into that type of stuff,” Murphy said. “Those are the personal rewards for me.”