by Cynthia Goss
Over the weekend of May 4-5, a unique statewide boat show will take place throughout Rhode Island. The annual Rhode Island Boat Show will include five different venues with one ultimate goal: to showcase the Ocean State as a leading recreational boating destination with stunning coastline, scenic towns, and a diverse group of boating businesses, facilities, and products.
Rhode Island Boat Show logo
The event takes place in Bristol, Jamestown, Middletown, Wakefield, and Warwick. Each venue offers an opportunity to see boats on land and in the water, meet industry experts, learn about gear and equipment, and experience the Ocean State’s boating lifestyle. Each venue offers free admission and free parking to all types of boaters—from seasoned sailors and power boaters, to those who have never stepped foot on a boat before.
This unique boat show is now in its third year. According to Ryan Miller, owner of Latitude Yacht Brokerage of Newport and one of the original founders of the show, the event started in 2011 with one venue. It was a time when the country was climbing out of a recession and Rhode Island’s marine industry banded together to promote their businesses and products during the spring season.
'The event was simply a way to say, We are open for business,' says Miller. 'Now that the economy has corrected itself, we have the opportunity to really showcase what Rhode Island has to offer recreational boaters.'
The show has continued as a homegrown, industry effort. It was expanded to three venues in 2012, and this year will include five venues that are family and pet friendly. Some venues will include opportunities to get out on the water with classes and clinics conducted by Discover Boating.
The boat show is also an opportunity for those from out of state to visit and see what Rhode Island offers—including the state’s no-sales-tax policy on boats that are sold and registered in Rhode Island, and on boating services such as refits, repairs, storage, mooring, and berthing.
'We want people to come to this boat show from throughout the southern New England region—to enjoy themselves and explore why Rhode Island should be their boating home,' says Wendy Mackie, CEO of the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA), which endorses the show.
Many out-of-state individuals have already made the Ocean State their boating home: approximately half of the 44,000 registered boaters in Rhode Island live in other states.
Information on each venue can be found on the show’s website at Rhode Island Boat Show.