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New boating event to debut at Lake Lanier this spring

Boaters crushed by the cancellation of yet another Atlanta Boat Show, take heart: a new boating event is slated to chart the waters of Lake Lanier this spring. 

Previously slated for Jan. 6-9, the Atlanta show was nixed for the second consecutive year since COVID-19 emerged, this time owing to supply chain disruptions and an all-time low boat inventory, according to Darren Envall, vice president of Midwest Boat and Sportshows at National Marine Manufacturers Association. 

“What we’re seeing is people wanting to spend time with family, and one of the great ways to spend time with family is on the water — there are so many different activities that you can do,” Envall said. “But with the demand, there are some challenges, like any other industry, whether it’s the supply chain or workforce. We’re finding that there’s a lot more people doing research on boating and spending time with family on the water — it’s phenomenal, the growth that the marine industry is experiencing.” 

Rather than replacing the Atlanta Boat Show, which is slated to resume in 2023 at the Georgia World Congress Center, the Lake Lanier event is simply a complementary add-on aiming to expand the way NMMA serves Georgia boaters.  

“We believe that having the Atlanta Boat Show in January and following up with the March event would really be a great component for the marine industry as well as people of the surrounding Atlanta area,” Envall said. 

Targeting March 4-6, Envall said the inaugural event will outfit Lake Lanier with boats currently on the Atlanta market, including towboats, pontoons and fiberglass fishing boats, as well as accessories and inspiration for another season of maritime adventures. 

Attendees can expect to find both on-shore and in-water exhibits, Envall said, enabling boaters to take test rides and “see the boat as it should be in the water.” 

“It’s always great to see everything in January under the lights, but it’s also nice to see the boats as they’re intended to be on the water so you can see all the features, the handling and all the technology,” he said. 

The event will also feature workshops and educational experiences on “everything related to boating,” from how to safely operate a boat to information on basic maintenance. 

Whether seasoned seafarers or emerging beginners, Envall said the event is tailored to serve both audiences. 

“We’re reaching out to both — we have some activities where people can learn the rules of the waterways and an introduction on operating a boat, as well as (activities) for the experienced boater,” he said. 

A specific location has not yet been selected, though Envall said the group is eyeing a few different marinas as prospective host sites. 

“We’re learning so much about Lake Lanier, specifically how popular it is and how beautiful it is,” he said. “That was the driving force for picking Lake Lanier: It’s where people boat, it’s where the dealers are. There’s something about being on the water, being able to touch the boat in its element. We’re looking forward to bringing people together and being able to engage them with the marine industry.” 

Event details are still developing. As the date approaches, Envall said the event will have its own dedicated website; in the meantime, prospective attendees can visit or for updates. 

 This story was originally published in FCN sister paper Gainesville Times.