Whether you have been a houseboater your entire life or are in the market for your first boat, the On Water Expo is the place to be. This year the annual event was held the second weekend in June at State Dock on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. There is a reason people travel from as far away as California, New York and Florida to attend. The On Water Expo proved once again that houseboating transcends regions and that this is the perfect event to unite with people who feel the same passion.
"The expo really showed us how the industry is moving forward," says show producer Greg Larsen. "A lot of qualified buyers traveled a great distance to see manufacturers, boats and other vendors, which shows us people are starting to make big purchases again."
Each year, State Dock (www.statedock.com) rolls out the welcome mat for On Water Expo attendees and exhibitors. Their hospitality helps make the show a success and the lakeside location creates a beautiful background for everyone to have a smokin' good time. State Dock puts together "Houseboat Row," which is a line of rental houseboats allowing participants to stay directly at the dock. They also provided a live band this year, Caught Red Handed, to entertain well into the night on Saturday.
The variety of exhibitors makes the journey worth it. From houseboats to insurance to food, vendors bring out their best. Stardust, Sunstar and Thoroughbred all had houseboats on hand for people to tour. Bravada Yachts and Destination Yachts had representatives available to answer questions.
"It was a big show for us," said Thoroughbred President Shawn Heinen. "We sold three boats the next week from customers we met at the Expo."
Something new this year was the Runabout Display, complete with six different companies and their brand-new boats. It was a great chance for houseboat owners to see what new things are happening in small boats and, of course, decide which one made the most sense for them to tow behind their primary love, the houseboat.
Houseboats by Terry, Your New Boat, Houseboat Plus and Elite Boat Sales brought information on used boats that are available for sale. Checking out the possibility of a used boat was a great way for attendees to spend their time.
Fortunate Soul provided DECKadence flooring for the show boats. This marine and outdoor flooring can withstand the elements, but still looks and feels good.
The food was a big hit, as always. Two Brothers Grillin' brought out their line of Cobb grills, John Henry rubs and marinades to wow the crowd by barbequing free samples all day long. Another new vendor was Dips Plus More, with a dip cooling system that was a sellout.
Part of the Expo fun is learning new things from people who have spent a lifetime learning the ropes. Jessica Wall, VP of sales and marketing for Nolan Bio Labs, taught a course on houseboat sanitation. Answering questions like "Odors- Where do they come from?" and "Why is sanitation important?" made her a popular stop for attendees.
Houseboat inspector Bill Burke also drew in crowds with his Seven Deadly Sins of Houseboating presentation. Throughout his lecture, he focused on errors that he finds during his inspections that can cause catastrophic damage or loss of life. By showing specific examples of the mistakes boat owners make, he kept his audience captivated.
Another crowd pleaser was the seminar on utilizing solar power on your boat, presented by Donn DeVore of Donn's Boat Shop, Inc. After 30 years of experience, DeVore is an industry leader on the installation of solar power on houseboats and used his knowledge to give an overview, explain the cost savings and compare grid tied systems versus stand alone systems.
As per usual, the All Hands On Deck Poker Run created excitement around State Dock. Attendees could buy one hand for $20 or six hands for $100. James Ware, from Rome Ga., picked up a six pack and qualified to play for the grand prize. And after the cards settled, he walked away with the grand prize, which was a brand-new Apex Marine Qwest LS 818 Cruiser pontoon with trailer. He also took fourth place, which garnered him a WaterMat Shark valued at $1499. Coming in second was Vince DeGrava from Lexington, Tenn. His second place hand won him a Sportsstuff package. Kelly King, Lebanon, Tenn., ended up taking third place and also received a brand-new Sportsstuff package including tubes and a helmet. And last, but certainly not least, Sam Scott from Knoxville, Tenn., took home a Cobb Pro Grill, which included a heavy-duty carry bag, grill grid and lifting fork.
Every year, the great thing about the Expo is how the houseboating community is able to come together and spend time learning, eating and exploring the advancements in the industry. Plan on heading to State Dock on June 7-9, 2013, so you don't miss out on this great event. If you are interested in attending or being a vendor, visit www.houseboatexpo.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.