FORT MYERS, Fla. — What was once scheduled to take place back in November had to be rescheduled to this weekend because of Hurricane Ian — the Fort Myers Boat Show.
Thousands of people are expected to come to the area to check out the hundreds of boats on display.
Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the Fort Myers Boat Show. A lot of work went into the planning, especially since Hurricane Ian. Organizers are excited to bring the event back during the rebuilding of Southwest Florida.
Boat Show Manager Kyle Good explains, "So it is a family tradition as Hank Williams would say it’s our 50th annual. My dad took it on just about 10 years after the show was incepted and passing the torch to me is awesome. I’m really enjoying taking on the management while still working with my father."
As you just read, the tradition continues here in Fort Myers, this time marking the 50th anniversary. The original dates back in November had to be cancelled because of Hurricane Ian.
"It breaks our heart honestly. Legacy Harbor right next to us has been involved in our show for a many, many years and to see them in that condition it does break her heart, but the exciting thing is they are going to rebuild. They are going to have more stronger docks and we’re hearing that around the industry in general nobody’s throwing their towel up. Everybody’s rebuilding and has a can-do attitude and we want to get people back out on the water."
Good added that seeing the rebuilding so far is impressive and it's time to get back on the water.
"That’s why we come to Southwest Florida, that’s why people retire here and live here, is to enjoy our waterways. It’s also a big business there’s a lot of jobs. I mean, all the way from the boat washer to the mechanic to the forklift operator... it supports a ton of jobs and it’s important to our industry. It’s what fuels Florida is tourism and boating," Kyle Good said.
William Forenski with WMF Watercraft and Marine is also looking forward to this year's boat show.
"It’s a great opportunity," Forenski said. "I mean I hope we sell a lot of boats because after we got the business the hurricane hit so it’s kind of an awful time to get it and kind of start things. We wanted to help the community out, so we got a lot of water and food for people just to help the community so it’s a great opportunity to be down here and help people out and show our boats."
More than 500 boats are spread out throughout the river district in Fort Myers. There have been a few changes this year. Instead of having any boats to show out in the city's yacht basin because of the damage, they are kept on land.
"The mood is very exciting; I mean personally even being down to downtown environment the past two weeks it seems like downtown is coming back to life. Claims are getting paid out, our waterways are being cleaned up and it’s time to get back on the water and enjoy why we live here in Southwest Florida," said Good.
While there will be plenty of food vendors and drinks being served throughout the show, Good also wants to remind you to get out to the downtown restaurants as well to help support our local businesses.
More than 15,000 people come out to these shows. Tickets are available online or at the entrance.
The entrance is at Bay Street & Heitman Street.
Hours for the show are:
Thursday, January 5th 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Friday, January 6th 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday, January 7th 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday, January 8th 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.