OCEAN CITY – As residents deal with chilling temperatures in the remaining days of winter, this weekend’s 34th Annual Seaside Boat Show gives the resort community hope for the warmer months to come.
This President’s Day weekend, 350 boats, 140 exhibits and 50 dealers will overtake the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, where visitors can view and purchase watercraft equipment, as well as learn about the industry’s newest water-related technology.
Like in years past, the Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club – a local nonprofit composed of more than 120 members – will host the event and will use proceeds from the show to support youth programs and scholarship funds within the community.
Charles Smith, publicity chairman for the Optimist Club, said the event brings an average of 12,000 people through the doors of the convention center each year and offers them a chance to view the industry’s leading equipment and win a pontoon boat and motor, courtesy of North Bay Marina owners Scott and Mary McCurdy.
“They have been doing it over 30 years,” Smith said. “That is a significant contribution over the years. We love those guys for that.”
Although the door prize is one of the event’s main attractions, Smith added a wide range of watercraft equipment – boats, jet skis, fishing gear, marine electronics, canvas tops and more – will be on display. In addition, finance and insurance companies will be on hand at the show for those purchasing boats.
“They bring the best and newest top-of-the-line equipment there,” Smith said. “It’s all there, anything you can imagine.”
For many years, the event has been labeled “the boat show that works for kids”.
From its beginnings in 1972 to its 40th anniversary in 2012, Smith said the nonprofit has donated more than $5.5 million to youth-related programs and scholarships and added a separate scholarship foundation through the Optimist Club has contributed $1.8 million to the county’s three area high schools in the past 30 years.
The annual boat show is the Optimist Club’s biggest fundraiser each year and provides for the organization’s many scholarships and programs – such as Project ID, oratorical and essay contests, art competitions and the like.
“The fact that we use the money for the kids is a great thing,” Smith said. “We just enjoy having all the people come out and know they will see the best in technology.”
The three-day event will be open to the public Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Feb. 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $10 per adult and $1 per child. Weekend passes are available for $15. Each ticket holder has a chance to win the pontoon boat and motor.
The Seaside Boat Show is the largest boating show in all of Delmarva and one of the most popular on the Eastern seaboard, according to Smith.
“Every inch in the convention center is rented,” he said. “Every dealer in the area will be there.”
A complete list of vendors and an exhibition floor layout is available at www.ocboatshow.com.
For more information on the Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club, visit www.ocberlinoptimist.org.