When your boat show is the largest on the Treasure Coast and deemed one of the top events in the Southeast, it’s more than a boating lifestyle you’re promoting.
The three-day Stuart Boat Show, returning for its 49th year on Jan. 13, has been built on relationships. Many will be established that weekend between boat dealers and buyers.
In addition, there’s the longstanding relationship between the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast, which established the show in 1974, Allsports Productions, now in its 35th year as the show’s promoter, and the city of Stuart.
“The secret really has been great committee work with partnership with our promoter and working with our city,” Michele Miller, director of operations for the MIATC, says. “We really try to be good stewards with the land that we’re working on. We try to leave it better than when we came — cleaner, nicer, better. We don’t want to be a negative impact.”
Mike Allen, who manages the show for Pompano Beach-based Allsports Productions, says the impact of the highly regarded event — held on land and in water north of downtown Stuart on NW Dixie Highway and along the St. Lucie River — has been nothing but positive.
“Throughout the past several years, the Stuart Boat Show has experienced growth spurts in both participating exhibitors and attendees alike,” Allen says. “The city continues to grow in popularity and population, which helps support our continued growth of the show.
“We are exceedingly excited to bring new products, new innovations from the marine industry to this year’s show,” Allen says. “Continuing the legacy of bringing this community of marine enthusiasts together to share in the recreational boating lifestyle is what drives us. Sure, dealers love to sell boats and make a living, but the true enjoyment for us is seeing families appreciate in what connects us all — water.”
Miller has high praise for Allen.
“He’s done an excellent job,” Miller says. “He always makes sure the show is beautiful — their attention to detail and making sure it’s always well-run so guests feel good.”
And how does it feel to be regularly recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 Festival and Event Award recipient?
“It’s important to us,” Miller says. “We like to put on a high-quality show that is profitable for our members, and beneficial to our  members, but we also realize that we serve the community. So, we want to put on an event that the city is proud to put their name on. We want to make sure that we put on a top-tier event that wins those type of accolades.”
Florida boasts some of the largest boat shows in the country and in Miami’s case, the world. But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean overwhelming competition for the Stuart show.
“I go to all the shows — Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and St. Petersburg,” Miller says. “People like our show; vendors like our show because it’s a smaller show. Brokers like our show because you’re able to talk to the customers.
“When people come to the Stuart show, they’re at the ready-to-buy stage,” Miller adds. “Statistics show that people will go to four to five shows before they buy a boat. And if you’re looking for a specific boat, you’re going to go to all the shows. Do we have the super mega yachts they get down there? No, but we have beautiful boats.”
And plenty more.
“There’s something for everybody — tons of clothing, apparel, jewelry artwork, as well as boats,” Miller says. “We have nonpowered ones, kayaks, paddleboards and all kinds of on-the-water fun toys that are there.”
And one doesn’t have to be in the market for a boat to enjoy this family-friendly show, which averages 18,000 attendees.
The on-water Pelican Lounge is the social gathering place to take a break, have a cool drink and chat with friends. On shore, the Coco Bar offers an upper deck to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the show. The Bahamas Pavilion is back with steel-drum vibes.
In addition to checking out the show’s largest field of more than 200 boat dealers and exhibitors, visitors to the 2023 event will find additional boat brokers.
“We knew this was going to happen two years post-COVID,” Miller says, “because when COVID happened, we had no inventory. You couldn’t do anything but go boating. So, everyone was buying a boat.
“Now, people can go and travel again,” Miller adds. “They can go here; they can go there. They say, ‘OK, we had our fun for two years with the boat, so we’ll go do something else.’ So, some of those boats purchased because of COVID, are now coming back on the market as brokerage boats.”
Miller came on board with the MIATC in 2009 from the state association. The MIATC is a Florida not-for-profit corporation representing boating interests in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties. Members include marine-related businesses, commercial and residential marinas, boatyards, boat dealers and a variety of marine service-related businesses.
And, in Florida, boating is big business.
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s 2018 economic impact study, recreational boating in Florida had a $23.3 billion annual economic impact with 935,742 boats registered. In Florida’s 18th Congressional District, which includes Martin and St. Lucie counties and Jupiter, the impact in 2018 was $1.3 billion with 46,107 boats registered and 7,055 jobs supported.
Stuart Boat Show plays an important role in enabling the association to fulfill its mission and assist the marine industry on the Treasure Coast.
“This is the one and only fundraiser that we do,” Miller says. “So we use the money that we raise from this show to help develop our skilled workforce with various training programs.”
Yet another example of a special relationship fostered by the Stuart Boat Show.
WHAT: More than 205 local, national and international exhibitors will be displaying hundreds of boats in-water and on land. Additional exhibits include the latest in personal watercraft, marine electronics, outboard and inboard engines, safety equipment, accessories, boat lifts, fishing gear, nautical clothing and jewelry, as well as financing and insurance companies.
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, Jan. 13 and 14, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: 54-290 NW Dixie Highway, Stuart.
ADMISSION: $17 general admission [at the gate]; $14 general admission [discounted advance sales online only]; $14 for veterans; $8 for children 12 and younger; infants free.
PARKING: Free shuttle service available from the north: grass lot on the corner of NW Wright Boulevard and NW Dixie Highway; from the south: Witham Field [enter from Monterey Road].
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit stuartboatshow.com
Jan. 10, 2023