Virginia, Richmond boat shows to be combined

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Boat Show and the Richmond Boat Show are being combined into a single show in February to produce a weightier event in a down economy, according to show organizers.

The Virginia Boat Show, originally scheduled for Jan. 22-24 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, will be combined with the Richmond Boat Show on Feb. 19-21 at the Richmond Raceway Complex. The shows are both owned by Affinity Events, a division of the company that owns Boating Industry

“Due to the market conditions in the boating industry, we made the decision to do one solid event rather than two mediocre events,” Jeff Haughton, Affinity’s eastern region vice president, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We do hope to bring this show back in the future.”

The show at the convention center drew about 4,000 visitors last year, while the Richmond Boat Show at the raceway complex brought in about 7,000, he told the paper. “Combining the boat shows, we’d expect an attendance of 8,000-10,000 coming up in February,” Haughton reported. “The Richmond Boat Show will largely be a sold-out show.”

Almost all the exhibitors who were planning on participating in the Virginia Boat Show will move into the Richmond Boat Show. The combined show will showcase about 125 exhibitors, including about 25 boat dealers.

As boat dealers have contracted or gone out of business entirely amid rapidly declining boat sales, the number of boat shows has declined as well. The National Marine Manufacturer’s Association canceled several shows in the last year, including the San Diego Boat Show, the Schaumburg Boat & Sportshow and the Virginia In-Water Boat Expo & Sailfest.

“In an industry with fewer dealers and fewer manufacturers, there will be fewer boat shows,” Thom Dammrich, NMMA president, said in April.

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