The 65th annual Progressive Cleveland Boat Show & Fishing Expo will kick off the reopening of the I-X Center in Cleveland and the 2022 public shows shut down by Covid-19 when the Boat Show docks there January 13-17.
“The boat show was the first public show held in the I-X when it opened in 1986,” says Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association (LEMTA), “and we’re excited to bring the show back.”
The Cleveland Boat Show has been an important winter event for marine dealers and fishing-related businesses in Port Clinton and around Ottawa County. It’s also a hotbed for Lake Erie Shores & Islands, Put-in-Bay and other tourism agencies eager to promote summertime attractions in Ottawa and Erie counties.
The show was also rejuvenated in 2020 with the addition of the Fishing Expo to complement all of the boating exhibits.
The sheer size of the I-X Center allowed the boat show to become the largest show of its kind in Ohio and rank at the top of such shows nationally. The 2020 boat show was a reimagined event with dozens of new features and hands-on experiences for attendees, said Burke. It resulted in a 12-year high attendance.
Plans for its return Jan. 13-17 are already well underway and will build on the formula that made the 2020 show such a huge hit, Burke said.
The Fishing Expo was essentially a new show within a show. It treated anglers to the largest collection of fishing gear exhibits and live on-stage presentations in northern Ohio. An increase in the number of seminars and attractions for 2022 is now in the works.
“Boating and fishing are all about the experiences they provide to families,” explains Burke, “so we want our returning show to be even more experiential. Live entertainment for all ages will also be expanded, including the return of the popular “Twiggy the Water-Skiing Squirrel” show; an expanded lineup of live musical entertainers; boating seminars and hands-on simulators; and a bigger schedule of presentations in the College of Nautical Knowledge.”
The national interest in the outstanding Lake Erie walleye fishing, with a walleye population boasting record-setting schools of fish, should again lure a flotilla of anglers.
All that said, the top experience for show visitors will be climbing aboard the hundreds of power and sailboats that will be on display. The fleet will range from the smallest inflatable paddleboards to 40-foot-plus motor yachts that can carry the crew anywhere on the Great Lakes. Plus, attendees will again enjoy shopping at more than 200 exhibits of accessories, marinas, nautical clothing, educational and service exhibits surrounding all the show activities.
“The boat show had been staged in the I-X Center for 35 years. Now the highly-regarded Industrial Realty Group wants to see the big public shows continue there, and we are looking forward to many more years ahead,” said Burke.