A $5 Million Weekend

Published online: Mar 23, 2011 News
Viewed 2404 time(s)
At a time when the houseboat industry could use some good news, the National Houseboat Expo in Louisville, Ky., last March did just that. During the three-day event, Horizon Yachts, Sharpe, Stardust Cruisers and Thoroughbred sold houseboats that roughly combined for $5,465,000, giving those in this segment of the boating industry something to cheer about.

Besides the great venue that brings all the houseboat manufactures together in one location and the competitive show pricing, there was another incentive for consumers to bring their checkbook to the annual show-a $70K perk.

If you purchased a showboat during the Expo or put down a deposit on a custom boat to be built by one of the participating houseboat manufacturers, you were automatically entered into a drawing for a Hurricane SunDeck 2400 deck boat from Nautical Global Group. The $70K prize package included the SunDeck with a wakeboard tower, Thunder & Lightning Sound System, a Yamaha F200TXR engine, as well as a Trailmaster Trailer.

At the close of the show, the drawing was held and John and Lynnette Lewellyn came out the winners. The Indiana couple purchased the Thoroughbred showboat and also went home with the ultimate kickback.

Blasting the horn during the show after purchasing a houseboat has become a tradition and there was plenty of noise being made. Other returning houseboat manufactures involved in the Expo included Destination Yachts, Sailabration as well as Sunstar. There was even a new houseboat manufacturer, Bravada Yachts, who nationally debuted its line of houseboats at the 2011 show.

For over a dozen years, the National Houseboat Expo has been considered a gauge for the industry in determining and predicting the near future. Although it's still early in the year, the success of the show points to an economy rebound that we've all been waiting for.

Besides the houseboat manufactures, the Kentucky Exposition Center was nicely filled in with vendors with houseboat-specific products, services and many other booths that catered to our audience.

Boat Giveaway

After a successful All Hands On Deck poker run last year where the winning hand walked away with a brand new Qwest pontoon boat package valued at over $20K, we decided to do it again! This year we gave away a Qwest LS 7518 XRE Cruise pontoon boat from Apex Marine, complete with an Evinrude 60 DSLII engine as well as a Yacht Club bunk trailer as our top poker run prize. Attendees purchased a pack of five tickets from the Houseboat magazine booth and then took each of these tickets to the five designated booths located throughout the venue to exchange for a playing card-all sealed in individual envelopes. These envelopes were then returned to the booth, the cards were removed and a poker hand was revealed. The top five hands were eligible to win the Qwest pontoon. Needless to say, with such high stakes, people were buying as many as 10 hands in order to improve their odds.

But for Jonathan Florence, he only needed one poker hand to get four two's, which earned him a seat at the final table. In the end he battled Nancy Woods and it was his three sixes that had him leaving the show with keys to his new boat.

Jonathan came to the Expo with his wife Kelly and their friends Frank and Carol Amos.

"When we walked up to the pontoon we said who ever wins this, we're going to split it," said Kelly.

"We each bought one ticket each, so we had four total and that's all we bought," added Frank. "We were going to buy more but we took such a beating at the casino earlier that we settled for one ticket a piece."

The two couples are from Alabama and as they left the show they were talking about how much fun they could have with this pontoon at the Flamingo Yacht Club at Alred Marina in Guntersville and how their infamous E Dock friends were going to be happy for them.

Even though the runner up didn't win the boat, Woods didn't go home empty handed. After making it to the final table, she took home second prize, which was a houseboat vacation to Norris Lake. Winton "Boo Boo" Rebouche came in third, earning him a flat screen weather-resistant TV from Mirage Vision while Tommy Girouard and Sherri Wasserzug each went home with Cooler Scooters from Aqua Assets for being the fourth and fifth place finishers. Once again Middle Tennessee Brokers sponsored the t-shirts, so even if you didn't make the final table you at least went home with an Expo t-shirt.

Earning A Vacation

During the three-day event, houseboat vacations were randomly drawn and awarded to those in attendance. David Halstead won the Friday drawing and will be enjoying a three-night rental from Anchors Away Houseboat Rentals on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. On Saturday, Liz Brandon was selected as the winner of the three-night weekend or four-night mid-week vacation from State Dock on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.

Then on Sunday, the Grider Hill Marina vacation went to William Haycraft. His wife Diane is especially excited to be taking their family on a seven-night houseboat vacation from Grider that is also located on Lake Cumberland.

Cornhole And Cash

A section of the venue was sectioned off for the annual Boardz N Bagz Cornhole Tournament, hosted by Bluegrass Cornhole Company, and attendees were tossing bags with abandon as early as Friday night.

Cornhole really ramped up Saturday morning, as serious players began warming up for the $500 cash prize. In the end, only one team was left standing, and Derek King and Steve Brady went home with the first place winnings. Mike Schaffer and Rick Mayes took second and Eric Zocklein and Troy Taylor took third in the furious competition.

And because the Expo was held during the NCAA basketball tournament, Boardz N Bagz also sponsored a contest to encourage attendees to dress up and show their team pride. Regardless of how their brackets were doing or even if their favorite school had already been eliminated, those dressed in college gear were eligible to win a complete set of boards and bags to be customized with their team of choice. Doug Curry from Carrollton, Ky., was the big winner of the random drawing.

Awards

Once the cornhole cash prize had been distributed, it was time for us to give out the awards for Houseboater of the Year and the coveted Proud Crowd trophy. The 2011 Houseboater of the Year award went to Kathy Ballard from State Dock on Lake Cumberland. Kathy and her husband Bob own an 88-foot Horizon Yachts houseboat and her friend Jeanie Durbin presented her with the trophy after giving a heart-felt introduction speech. Kathy was selected for being a selfless hostess who volunteers her time to a number of local events including the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Cruisn' for a Cure event that is held each summer to help fund breast cancer research. There is no telling how far her positive influence has reached over the years because of her willingness to help and serve others.

The Proud Crowd Trophy-that is awarded to the marina that best demonstrates houseboating spirit and unity-was awarded to Sulpher Creek on Dale Hollow Lake. The loud and proud group came to the Expo in matching tan shirts, while Chain Crawl from Fox Lake in Illinois came in matching hooded sweatshirts, finished second in the close race. The prestigious trophy was once again sponsored by Olympic Awards from Hudson, Ohio.

Wrap Up

And with that, the 2011 National Houseboat Expo was in the books. Vendors packed up their wares, ready to go home or move on to their next event. Huge trucks came to haul the houseboats away, and in just a few hours, you'd never have known we were there.

Thanks to those who presented seminars as well as to everyone who attended and supported the Expo; we hope to see you at the On Water Expo at Lake Cumberland on August 26-28. For more information, visit www.houseboatexpo.com.


Look For photos from the Expo in the May/June issue Houseboat

Follow us on Facebook!   Follow us on Instagram!   Follow us on Pinterest!   Follow us on YouTube!