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Chicago outdoors showtime: Boat Show overview

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Here are my takes from hitting the 81st Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show yesterday.

ChicagoBoatShow01-12-1131stSt.

It runs through Sunday at McCormick Place.

One of the must sees is the blow-up of what the new 31st Street marina (above) will look like. It's in the Chicago harbors booth.

On the boat side, the show expanded slightly, but it is still a shell of the glory days.

Pontoons are the hot ticket. In that regard, you should check out the high-end crossover pontoon, the Floe Craft Ace 34, which is making its appearance at the show.

No, it ain't nothing like the old-time pontoons.

Show staff report 300 boats and 200 RVs on the floor. I did not count to confirm.

The show is still dominated by manufacturer's presence. And nearly all the local players in boat sales are there, places like Basa Marine, Bedford Sales, Berwyn Marine Center, Fox Lake Harbor, Munson Marine and Water Werks.

For another year, the display by the Blackhawk Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society steals the show. This is fast becoming one of my must-sees of all the outdoor shows around Chicago.

The RV side has expanded. Last year it was squished in a corner. Now it has its own hall on the same floor. Nothing too earth-shattering. More lines are adding the outdoor kitchen that debuted last year.

ChicagoBoatShow01-12-11RVindoorspace

Customer consultant Paul Froeschle for Rick's RV said Jayco's 33 RLDS is ``the thing.'' What he called ``the wow factor.'' He's right. There is actual room inside (above). It has a definite wow sense.

There's a couple overall discouraging signs. There's empty space in the boat side. ``Snake-oil'' booths make up nearly half the small-booth area.

My guess is, if you're in the market for a boat or RV and have the credit or money, this is an outstanding year to strike a good deal.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 14, 2011 5:27 AM.

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