KC boat show draws lots of lookers

January 2011 News Rick Montgomery - The Kansas City Star

They come to the boat show to dream.

It's cold outside, and the snow is getting dirty. The economy limps. But at Bartle Hall on Saturday, optimists congregated by the thousands, young and old, to cast away the winter blahs and plan for sunnier times ahead.

"You step out on this floor, and it's a dreamer's world," Steve Nothnagel said as his grandchildren, John and Jocelyn Adams of Lee's Summit, kicked off their sneakers to scamper through a 28-foot Regal 2700, priced at $91,000.

When Jakob Goldman stepped out of the slush and into the 57th annual Kansas City Boat and Sportshow, he said, "It's a perfect day for a boat show." And so it was, a time to imagine the possibilities - getting back into his kayak this spring - and to watch nephew Sam Goldman, 9, of Overland Park jump aboard personal watercraft with some friends who pretend to be racing.

Sam's friend Dalton Dressler told stories of wakeboarding. "I like that feeling of crashing on my stomach into the water," said Dalton, 10. His uncle Darrin Dressler of Kansas City captured the day at the boat show with a small video camera strapped around his head.

These are people who will not let tough times or the gloom of January spoil their passion for the outdoors.

OK, the recession spurred the cancellation of Bartle Hall's other big draw of this type, the Mid-America Boat Show, after 50 years, but some dealers said Saturday's crowd showed signs of getting ready to spend again.

"I have some of my best success with people who never owned a boat, but they want activities to enjoy while their kids grow up," said Missouri dealer Bob Forbes, standing by lavishly appointed Bentley pontoon boats. "You're not just selling them a boat. You're educating them to a whole new lifestyle.

"I'm very optimistic about 2011. I think we're on an upturn," Forbes said, even if he hadn't yet sold anything off the Bartle floor.

Bob and Debbie Crider were serious about buying new - if not right now, sometime before Bob retires from his job at the Veterans of Foreign Wars headquarters in a couple of years.

The couple agreed when they were married 35 years ago that they would live out their sunset years on a lake. "Our house in Kansas City is just to go back and forth to work," said Bob Crider. "I think we spend 45 weekends a year" on lakeside property in Climax Springs, Mo.

The Criders will live this dream no matter the setbacks: They lost two children in childbirth. Then their careers took them out of milder California, where they'd fallen in love, and the crash on Wall Street cut into their savings.

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/15/2586502/kc-boat-show-draws-lots-of-lookers.html#ixzz1BL3ZUi38
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