A huge crowd showed up Saturday (Feb. 12) at the Biloxi Boat and RV Show in Biloxi, Miss., to check out everything from RVs to party barges to ATV’s. It was like a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast, the Biloxi Sun-Herald reported.
“This year is going very good,” said Melissa Miller, the show manager for the past 18 years. “It’s much improved. The vendors are happy, attendance is up and it’s a positive thing. We’ve had enough negative.”
After a year of worry because of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, people seemed ready to get back on the water and in the outdoors.
“This show has been great for traffic,” said David Kellett of the Fairhope Boat Co. “It’s getting better all the time. This year, it’s exploded.”
Tracy Fisher, of B&R Camper Sales, in nearby Mobile, Ala., had already made sales.
“We’ve been coming to the show since it started,” Fisher said. “But this is the first time since Katrina. We’ve sold a few today.”
Tony Dickens, of George’s Water Sports in Mobile, Ala., was busy showing party barges and pontoon boats.
“The pontoon boats are doing pretty good,” Dickens said. “We can deliver them anywhere.”
The Big “O” Outdoors Charters had an impressive ice chest of redfish on display, and they were informing people of their chartered tours out of Slidell, La.
“The fishing has been great,” said Jonathan Allen of The Big “O”. “It’s our first show, but it’s going good. We young and just starting out but we want to get people fishing because it’s been great.”
Fishing was a big hit with the kids at Lawton’s Portable Trout Ponds.
John Lawton stayed busy and put a lot of smiles on many young faces.
“It’s been very good,” Lawton said. “They love it.”
Enthusiast of all ages seemed to love the Boat and RV show, and they can return today. The Show will open at 10 a.m. today and close at 5 p.m.
If the early signs at spring boat shows are any indication, the economy could be slowly digging itself out of a recession, the Biloxi, Miss., Sun Herald reported.
The 2011 Biloxi Boat and RV Show is set to open Friday (Feb, 11) and run through Sunday at the Coast Coliseum, and it hopes to follow suit with the Houston and Atlanta shows.
“I can’t even begin to tell people how this show is different from last year,” Melissa Miller of Gulf Coast Shows of Mobile said. “From a business perceptive, it was tough on everyone involved to participate. We had 50 vendors.
“This year is sold out (vendor space). We have more than 75 vendors in for the weekend from New Orleans, Mississippi and as far away as Dothan, Ala., to the north and Destin, Fla., to the east. The trend, starting with Houston, has been up in terms of attendance and sales. It’s going to be a good show.”
The Biloxi show is expected to draw 10,000 to 12,000 visitors.
“With the number of vendors and the people we are expecting, that’s a great sign for the economy and for boating,” Miller said. “We have 140,000 square feet of space inside the Convention Center. Last year, it wasn’t full, but it is this year. That makes this show our biggest in Mississippi — ever.”
The show offers a one-stop shop for potential boat owners, including some of the lowest prices of the year based on manufacturers’ discounts.
That means boats that have already been discounted for the show could see further on-the-spot discounts by the manufacturers.
“It really is the best time of the year to buy a boat,” Miller said. “A lot of financial institutions come with the dealers so you can get everything at the show. And we also have RV dealers here, too.”
On sale will be skiffs, bay boats, island-style boats, offshore fishing vessels and personal watercraft.
The show includes marine electronic dealers, fishing supplies, floating docks and charter services.
“Something new this year will be the Dixie Diving Dogs competition,” Miller said. “Anyone can bring their own dog. They record your dog’s speed and length of a jump and will name a winner at the end of the show. That will be going on all weekend.”
All dogs must enter the Convention Center on a leash.