International Boat Show: Thousand Islands hosts first event for Classic Boat Society


BY: Olivia Belanger
An international boat society hopes to fill the docks along the village waterfront with Lymans, Hackers and other classic watercraft at its annual show this fall.

    The Thousand Islands chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, which has 52 other chapters in the U.S., Canada and France, has volunteered to host the organization’s 2019 International Boat Show from Sept. 16 to 22. Society members will dock their boats at the Riveredge Resort, Bonnie Castle Resort & Marina and upper James Street dock. 

    Dan J. Gyoerkoe, executive director of the organization, said he expects about 400 members will attend and 175 wooden, fiberglass and metal antique and classic boats will be registered. It will be the society’s first International Boat Show in the Thousand Islands since the inception of the event in 2002. 

Spectators can expectt to see a “broad range of boats,” Mr. Gyoerkoe said, from the early 1900s all the way up to 1994. He said most boats registered are mahogany, but are anywhere from 13 to over 30 feet in length. 

    As far as expected brand names, Mr. Gyoerkoe said anything goes. 

    “Pretty much all brands will be there,” he said. 

    Mr. Gyoerkoe said some boats will be land-bound as well, including a display of hydroplane raceboats. 

    “Some boat owners will bring their boats, but they don’t want them in the water, so they stay on a trailer,” Mr. Gyoerkoe said. 

    Aside from the Thousand Islands love for boats, the event is important for the region because it hopes to bring in additional revenue and new visitors. 

    “There are people coming from Washington, California, and even New York, who haven’t been to the Thousand Islands area before, so we hope that people come back,” Mr. Gyoerkoe said. 

    The 2018 International Boat Show, which attracted 430 members and 193 registered boats, was held in Port Huron, Mich. 

    When looking at last year’s show numbers, Mr. Gyoerkoe said the organizers anticipate a significant impact on the area’s economy. 

    “The local visitor’s center estimated about a $5,000 economic impact on Port Huron,” Mr. Gyoerkoe said. “We are hoping to achieve a similar impact this year.” 

    According to the analysis firm Tourism Economics, Wayne, Pa., travelers to the region, which includes Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties, spent $543.3 million in 2017, the most recent data available. 

    Earnings from visitor spending in 2017 generated $36 million in local tax revenue and $29.9 million in local tax revenue, or $65.9 million total, according to the report. For the regional tourism industry, an additional $144.6 million was brought in that directly supported labor income and supported 6,465 people in local jobs. 

    The only downfall to hosting the event in the north country is it will likely deter those in the southwest from making the drive, according to Mr. Gyoerkoe. On the other side of that, though, he said the Thousand Islands will likely see more people from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont than previous shows. 

    For those participating in the show, there was a $65 registration fee per boat, with additional fees depending on the events the participant decides to take part in. Participants also have to be members of the society, according to Mr. Gyoerkoe. 

    Participants will have the opportunity to have their boats judged as well, though not the primary function of the event. 

    “[Judging] creates an incentive to restore and maintain vessels of interest to a high level of quality. This promotes pride of ownership and a concern for authenticity, which is then recognized through the presentation of awards,” the society’s website stated. 

    Boats classified as historic up through late classic will be judged separately as preserved or restored boats, the website stated. 

    According to the society, a preserved boat contains at least 60 percent of its original deck and topsides material and is constructed using the same methods and materials as the original. The replacement of the bottom must also be a duplicate of the original design. 

    For a boat to be considered restored, the owner must provide photographic evidence of the original identifiable boat and the various stages of restoration, demonstrating the original boat was always together as a single entity. 

    From there, the judging system will be based on authenticity, workmanship and maintenance of the boat. 

    Spectators can view members’ watercraft at the docks and on land and ask questions during the show itself, the only public event during the celebration, from Sept. 20 to 21. 

    Before the show, Mr. Gyoerkoe said the local chapter will host a series of activities for members from Sept. 16 to 19 including scenic excursions through the Thousand Islands and popular locales. 

    The organization will also host its welcome reception Sept. 18 at the Antique Boat Museum, 750 Mary St., Clayton, which Mr. Gyoerkoe said may include other activities like shopping and walking tours in Clayton. 

    Members can also compete for a variety of awards at the event. The society will host an auction Sept. 20 when members can bid on nautical memorabilia and gift cards, Mr. Gyoerkoe said. Auction proceeds will help finance the organization’s scholarship endowment fund. 

    All in all, Mr. Gyoerkoe said the society is excited for the opportunity. 

    “It’s a home game for us, so we are excited to have it here,” Mr. Gyoerkoe said. A promotional video for the event can be seen at