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January 19, 2021

In-person Portland boat show planned for July

COURTESY / PORTLAND YACHT SERVICES Portland Yacht Services/Portland Ship Yard is planning an in-person boat show in July at its nearly 17-acre waterfront campus.

Portland Yacht Services/Portland Ship Yard is taking advantage of its spacious waterfront acreage to plan a socially distanced, in-person boat show this summer.

The Maine Boatbuilders Show, which typically draws around 10,000 people, was scheduled to take place last March at the Portland Sports Complex in Portland.

The pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 event, but the boat show's promoters said last week they plan to host a modified version of the show on the boat yard's campus of nearly 17 acres, at 100 West Commercial St. on Portland’s western waterfront.

The show is the traditional time when builders of both fiberglass and custom wooden boats, as well as makers and retailers of boating equipment, can showcase their latest work and new products. 

Prior to 2020, Phineas and Joanna Sprague, who own Portland Yacht Services, had held the show every March since 1987.

“The ‘pandemic pause’ ruled out the March 2021 date,” Joanna Sprague wrote in a letter to exhibitors.

Instead, the company will combine the show with its Maine Small Craft Celebration, which was originally scheduled to be held in September, as an opportunity for builders to demonstrate boats. 

“Instead of two events, we will combine elements of both in July 2021,” Sprague wrote. “The same only different, we have always wanted to celebrate with an 'on land and in the water' event.”

Any exhibitor that paid a deposit for the 2020 Maine Boatbuilders Show will have the money and reservation applied to the new 2021 event date. 

The combined event will be held July 23-25. The company’s campus will allow exhibitors and visitors to spread out, Sprague wrote.

“There is a glimmer of hope that the spirit of celebration will spawn other Portland events,” she added.

The show will include  boats in the water and on land. Some of the company’s storage buildings will be available for displays.   

“We want to focus on the next generation,” said Sprague. “Thirty-five percent of the families in Maine have a registered boat. The next generation of our industry has grown up on the water. They will make career choices and there is an exciting and enjoyable career available in the ocean economy.”

The company plans to hold onto its March 2022 date for the show at the Portland Sports Complex.

For more information, click here.

Portland Yacht Services launched in 1981. In 2014, the company moved to its present site. Since then, the company has made a commitment to invest over $20 million in the 16.75-acre facility. 

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