By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Feb. 14, 2019) Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club’s annual Seaside Boat Show will return to the resort for the 36th year, with more than 350 boats, 50 dealers and 160 vendors at the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street, this weekend, Feb. 15-17.
Dealers and exhibitors will feature the latest and most popular models, and many are offering special show prices during what has become one of the most popular boat shows on the East Coast.
Visitors can browse an array of sport cruisers, sport fishing, performance, and “super boats.” Financing and insurance are available for interested buyers.
The show grows more popular every year, drawing thousands of water and boating enthusiasts to the resort. More than 18,000 people attended the show last year.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” publicity chairman Charles Smith said. “Boat electronics, canvas, wave runners, jet skis, pontoon boats – we’ve got anything you could take out of this [show] to play in the bay.”
Exhibitors will be selling state-of-the-art marine electronics, trailers, canvas tops, motors, jewelry, boat lifts, dock builders, art, paddleboats, fishing and other water sports-related gear.
The Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club sponsors the event and is a local affiliate of Optimist International. The chapter has 114 members and is recognized as one of the top clubs in the volunteer organization.
“It’s all about the kids and that’s why it’s advertised as a boat show that works for children,” Smith said.
The Seaside Boat Show is also one of the major fundraisers for the Optimist Club’s children’s programs. All of the funds raised are used for youth activities and community service in Worcester County.
In the past, the show has supported Worcester GOLD, Diakonia, the Worcester County Fair, CASA, Worcester Youth and Family Counseling, Boy Scouts, oratorical contests, WEXL banquet, Junior Achievement, Youth ID, Worcester County art contests, reading programs in the elementary schools, the drama program at Stephen Decatur High School, essay contests, an art show in Berlin, after-prom parties, and scholarships at the three county high schools.
For more than 30 years, the club has provided scholarships totaling more than $3 million to more than 400 Worcester County seniors at Stephen Decatur, Snow Hill and Pocomoke high schools, Smith said.
In addition, anyone who attends the show and buys a ticket will be eligible to win a pontoon boat with a Suzuki motor estimated to be worth $17,000, courtesy of North Bay Marina. The Fenwick Island, Delaware business has donated a pontoon to the show for the last three decades.
“The show has been good to us,” Scott McCurdy, owner of North Bay Marina, said. “Also, the OC-Berlin Optimist Club is a great organization and I’m friends with a lot of the guys. They do so much good in the local community that if you’re going to pick an organization to support, they certainly are at the top of the list.”
McCurdy has been attending the Seaside Boat Show as a vendor for 33 years.
“It’s the only boat show locally that almost all the proceeds go back to the local community and not into the pockets of some national promoter,” McCurdy said.
Canvas Experts, based in Ocean City, has also been involved in the show for more than 30 years.
“It’s the right time of the year for people placing orders … and it gets the ball rolling in the spring,” Owner Michael Varga said. “It’s like going to CarMax for [boats]. If you’re interested in look at multiple boats under one roof, you can get that done in one shot. This is an excellent show to go to.
“My prices are better at that show,” he continued. “I try to make it advantageous for someone to make an order at the show.”
Admission is $10 for a day pass or $15 for the entire weekend. Children’s admission is $1.
The Seaside Boat Show runs from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. today, Friday, 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
For a chance to win a boat, attendees must include their name, address and phone number on the tear-off section of the admission ticket and put it in the raffle container.
Visit www.ocboatshow.com for a list of exhibitors. For more information about the Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club, visit www.ocberlinoptimist.org.