Minneapolis Boat Show opens today, names Innovation Award winners

The sold out Discover Boating Minneapolis Boat Show, in partnership with Progressive Insurance, opens today and runs through Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The 2024 boat show has 700 new boats for attendees to see and shop – the largest collection of freshwater boats in the country. The Land of 10,000 Lakes oasis returns featuring daily live music, local bites and beverages, along with the Antique & Classic Boat Display, and “boating 101” courses at the Fred’s Shed How-To Center, presented by Progressive.

And for the first time, the boat show is hosting a Coat Drive, sponsored by the Select Minneapolis GMC Dealers, where attendees can donate a new or gently used coat on opening day in exchange for free admission. Coats will be donated to local charity Joseph’s Coat Minnesota.

The NMMA and Boating Writers International (BWI) announced the winners of the 2024 Minneapolis Innovation Awards, recognizing groundbreaking new consumer marine products, during the Sneak Preview event on January 17. 

The Minneapolis Innovation Awards honor manufacturers and suppliers who bring new, innovative products in the boating industry to market in five categories: aluminum and non-fiberglass fishing boats, fiberglass fishing boats, pontoon boats, and furnishings. This year’s program, which received the largest amount of entries since its inception in 2018, honored five Innovation Award winners across three categories – one in the fiberglass fishing boat category, two in the pontoon category, and two in the furnishings category.

“We’re honored to present the 2024 Minneapolis Innovation Awards to this year’s recipients, companies that are propelling our industry forward,” noted Show Manager Darren Envall. “We’re excited to showcase these innovations and the dozens of other new marine products at the 2024 Discover Boating Minneapolis Boat Show, providing attendees a premier boating marketplace to see and shop the best in boating, and get ready for life on the water.”

In the fiberglass fishing boat category, Skeeter Boats received the Innovation Award for the WXR 2060F.

“While offering a new level of deck space, Skeeter went a step further for its new WXR 2060F by redesigning in the hull, eliminating flex for more stability in the new console pods for a better boating experience.” says judge Adam Quandt.

In the pontoon boat category, dual winners Harris Boats was honored with the Innovation Award for the Harris Crowne 250, and Barletta Boats received the Innovation Award for the Barletta Lusso L25UCAT.

“From its new Zero-G Lounger to a newly designed chassis, no details went unchecked in the next iteration of the Crowne from Harris. Bow to stern, the Crowne takes boating in luxury and comfort to the next level,” said judge Adam Quandt about the Harris Crowne 250.

“We’re used to seeing twin engine pontoon models, but Barletta’s custom engine pod design is unlike anything else out there,” said Judge Brady Kay about the Barletta Lusso L25UCAT. “Mounting the two engines together increases the functionality for a smooth and powerful ride.”

In the furnishings category, dual winners Lillipad Marine received the Innovation Award for the Lillipad Marine Easy Step Ladder, and Premier Pontoons received the Innovation Award for the Premier Angler.

“It’s not just another ladder, designed with simple, common sense features for aftermarket use, the Lillipad Marine Easy Step Ladder incorporates hidden, innovative features,” said judge Bill Guis of the Lillipad Marine Easy Step Ladder. “It’s built for easy installation with versatility to accommodate the boater and their pets use on new or vintage boats.”

“As impressive as the Premier Angler is, there is one new feature that stands out above all others and that’s the exclusive Troll & Stow system,” said Kay of the Premier Angler. “Truly a game-changer, the revolutionary trolling motor design stows completely below deck for a clean, clutter-free deck.”

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