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The boats are back in town: Atlanta Boat Show returns
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Photo courtesy Atlanta Boat Show.

The Atlanta Boat Show is back on the water and ready for another year.

The 58th-annual event, scheduled for Jan. 16-19 at the Georgia World Congress Center and featuring 10 Gainesville businesses, is back and bigger than last year given the Super Bowl isn’t in town this time. 

Atlanta Boat Show

When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 16-17, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 19

Where: Georgia World Congress Center- Hall C, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta

How much: $12 in advance, $15 at the door; $5 after 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; $25 for family of four on Sunday; Children 12 and under are free

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are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. You can score a $5 ticket on Thursday or Friday if you stop by after 5 p.m. and on Sunday, you can get a family of four in for just $25. Children 12 and under are free.

“There's really something for everyone,” said Kevin Murphy, show manager. “There are fishing boats, there are cruising boats, there are high performance boats. So there is really something for everyone.”

Murphy said there will be about 700 boats on the floor at this year’s show and about 200 booths for you to stop by.

“There’s lots of pontoons, which seem to be very popular on the lakes and lots of center-console fishing boats,” he said.

Like last year, many of the same things will be available for you to check out: Boats and Brews, Career Day, Kids Zone, sailing seminars and plenty of presentations. But new this year is the Discover Boating Experience.

“It's a hub of a bunch of different things for new boaters,” Murphy said.

If you’re new to boating or simply want to learn a little more about all the different aspects of boating, there’s plenty at the Discover Boating Experience for you. Murphy said there will be a boat care station that will teach you how to keep your boat looking and running well, a conservation station where you’ll learn about  National Marine Sanctuaries and a product innovation station to learn about all the new gear and technology in boating.

“All the late-breaking technology that is broken up in our industry on the boat manufacturing, on the engine manufacturing and on the dealer level are all revealed and displayed there right under your nose,” said Ben Studer, manager at The Boat Shop in Gainesville. “You cannot get a more front-row experience than this Atlanta Boat Show.”

And if you want you want that front-row, real-life action, the bass tub — a 1,000-gallon fishing tank — is back. 

“Seminar speakers and professional fishermen will get up there and show you how to cast into the tank and you'll see the fish actually take a bite,” Murphy said.

If you’d like to try your hand at casting, grab a rod and reel from the fishing simulator.

“The simulator has a large screen and you grab a fishing pole and it pulls against you like you're fishing and shows you how to catch the big fish,” Murphy said.

The Boat Shop, which has been in Gainesville for the past few years will be making another trip to the Atlanta Boat Show this year. Studer said it’s a good time for his shop and all the others at the show to gain some traction during the winter.

“These shows stimulate out-of-season sales for our industry,” Studer said. “You see the dealer, boat manufacturer and engine manufacturers come together and discount items in order to stimulate sales. So there is a chance you can go to the Atlanta Boat Show and come to The Boat Shop’s booth and see a price on a unit that you will never see again that year.”

Murphy said that’s a big reason many people travel to the show, but it also helps to see all the products in one place.

“It's always beneficial to go to the show and see all the brands next to each other,” Murphy said. “It gives you a good comparison, where if you go to the dealership, you're going to see one or two brands. You come to the show and you're going to see 20.”

But if you stop by The Boat Shop’s booth, Studer said he’s looking to offer a personalized experience. Even though there will be many other dealers, you’ll get the same treatment at the show as you would in the shop.

“The one thing that we kind of capitalize on with our outfit, so to speak, is what a small family owned operation we are,” Studer said. “Our family orientation delivers a front-end experience nobody else can duplicate.”

Whether you’re going to the show to learn, look or buy, Studer said it’s a once-a-year show you don’t want to miss.

“You have people go down there that don't even buy boats,” Studer said. “They go down there with their families to see what our industry is doing … You’re going to have families come together and just take pictures in front of these units and enjoy their time together.”

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