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Progressive Cleveland Boat Show returns with virtual, hybrid event

The 2021 Progressive Cleveland Boat Show will feature recorded and live seminars with experts and in-person experiences at participating dealerships.

CLEVELAND — It’s been a part of the community for more than 60 years, but this year the Progressive Cleveland Boat Show and Fish Expo will make its return online. 

The event was forced to change its course amid the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of the I-X Center. The 64th annual boat show will run between Jan. 15-24. The event will feature live, interactive seminars with experts and in-person experiences at dealerships.

While the pandemic has shifted plans for the event, Burke said this is a big year for the boating industry.

 “I do feel this is a big year for the boat show because the demand for boats is so high,” said Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association.

Tom Mack, president of South Shore Marine, is participating in this year’s event.

“I think the value of family time on the water, it was so important to our customers,” said Mack. “I never heard thank you as often as I did in 2020 from our customers because they appreciated their boat so much. 

Mack said sales at South Shore Marine peaked in 2020.  

“With all the changes in the COVID world, boating was a safe place for people to go,” said Mack. “It kind of had it’s own built-in social distancing.”

While sales were up, dealers were also met with low inventory.  

“We could sell more boats than we could receive from our manufacturers,” said Mack.

Burke said it was important to keep the show active this year following the new wave of interest.

“I think you have new boat buyers with more questions than ever and I love that we’re going to instantaneously answer those.”

For more information on this year’s event, visit www.clevelandboatshow.com.

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