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Friday, May 24, 2013

Every June, On The Weekend Of Father's Day,

there is a show in St. Michaels, Maryland, that to me, is special in a way unlike any other that I know of. Let me say that I've been to a lot of shows over the years. It's formal name is "The 26th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival/The Arts at Navy Point".

Feel free to print this poster and show it off
It is one of the grandest expositions of fine old mahogany and chrome boats in the country: it is, in fact, the largest show of the type in the Mid-Atlantic region. It's location, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, is a setting that is perfect for the show's many aspects. Being on the Miles River, which connects directly to the Chesapeake Bay, stately motoryachts come from many parts of the East Coast. Many boats simply cross the Bay from the Western Shore or come up or down the Bay from various Eastern Shore locations. Boats arrive on trailers from all over the US and often from Canada, as well. There are runabouts, utilities, race boats, cruisers, launches and virtually everything that you can imagine in between. Because these boats are in competition for best restoration to original condition, they are all in "Bristol" shape and when you see 120 to 130 of them together, it's quite a sight.

There are several Antique & Classic Boat Festivals throughout the US and Canada and I think that they are all worth checking out. We attend a number of such shows each year and they all have their strengths. What I like about St. Michaels is that there is a type of synergy that has developed over the show's 26 year history. In particular, and for reasons that I'm not sure that I understand, it has had a good relationship with the arts. Having been among the first vendors that were part of the show, many years ago, I remember that the first group had a number of artists in it. Some of them still do this show, almost 20 years later.

Talk about use of "Style"
While I don't understand how it began, this connection between the boats and the arts has grown in a very natural way and the two worlds compliment each other amazingly well. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the boats, most of which were designed to be stylish in their times, and which are in such pristine condition are art in and of themselves. Making old and worn boats young again is an art form in no uncertain terms. Understanding how to do research, learning about history, and applying techniques of woodworking, metalworking, finishing, graphics, etc. are all types of multi-media art and artisanry.

I often hear people say how beautiful the St. Michaels show is. That it is balanced and makes people feel good. There are a lot of reasons for that. There is a lot to do and a lot to see and the people are friendly. Again, the Museum's grounds are beautiful in mid-June when the weather is "just right". I
think it looks better with lots of beautiful boats all over the place. ...and if you haven't been to St. Michaels, it really is a great place to be.

Everyone has a reason for liking boats, or not; art or not, and what I see in this may seem like a figment of my imagination to you. I have no problem with that. I will say that you should come to this show and think about what I'm saying here and see what you think for yourself. Even if you think I'm crazy, there are a lot of other things to see and do at the show. Whatever you like, I'm willing to bet that you will love something about this show.

The 26th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival / The Arts at Navy Point

For a list of this year's artists and vendors go to

For more show information, or to register a boat go to

For information about the town of St. Michaels go to

For Accomodations during the show go to