By Terry Duffy
Grand Islanders and Western New York boat lovers with an interest in the vessels of yesteryear will need to check out the Buffalo Launch Club next month.
Come Sept. 7-9, the 40th annual Antique and Classic Boat Show will mark its return to the BLC following a short-lived stint on the downtown Buffalo waterfront.
2018 Boat Show Chairman Jim Barrick said that for the classic boating crowd, holding the Buffalo show at Canalside - admittedly a hugely popular destination for many - simply could not match the BLC when it came down to providing the enjoyable setting and traditions the Grand Island club has become renowned for.
"Canalside just didn't have the intimacy of the antique classic boat enthusiast, and the atmosphere of the oldest motorboat club in North America - the BLC," said Barrick.
As a result, the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society and the BLC met, discussed and planned for the next step during this past off-season. And they are proud to announce the return of this WNY boating favorite to its most appropriate venue - the Buffalo Launch Club on the Island's south shore.
"We are very excited about this upcoming show."
He said visitors can look forward to re-discovering the boating classics of yesteryear. Woodies manufactured by such legendary makers as Richardson, Century, Chris Craft, Garwood, Penn Yan, Hankercraft, Shepherd and more are all expected.
"These mahogany boats with their glistening finishes will dazzle spectators with their beauty and grace," said Barrick.
Headlining the show will be the Dart Boat Company of Toledo, Ohio, which will be featuring some of its neat 1920s-era runabouts on display.
"We are looking at five, six Dart Boats from Toledo. Boats from the Roaring '20s and Prohibition times that were instrumental in the bootlegging industry, known for their speed in outrunning police boats," said Barrick.
"The Dart Boat Company will be giving a presentation on the history and significance and the impact on the state-of-the-art nautical engineering of the era."
That program is expected to feature antique boat enthusiast Jim Holler, proud owner of more than a dozen woodies - ranging from an 8-foot Old Town dinghy to a 36-foot Richardson cruiser, and in vintage years from a '28 Thompson to a '62 Richardson. Holler currently serves as president of the Geico Marine Insurance division for BoatUS.
Joining the Dart group will be Ramsey Brothers Restorations of Toledo, Ohio, who specialize in boat restorations from woodies to aluminums to fiberglass. Other vendors/restorers from the New York state-Southern Ontario region are expected.
Also expected will be a variety of "Glassics" - vintage fiberglass boats from the '60s, '70s and '80s, featuring exotic fins and sculptured shapes that were dominant in car and boat designs of that era. The website www.glassicsonline.com
boasts the unique models celebrate "the pioneering spirit of those classic runabout manufacturers of the '50s, '60s and '70s. Classic glass, alumaclassics, woodies ... these are the boats that brought power boating to the masses."
Glassics Online invites all "to explore the history of these fine examples of art in motion" come September at the Buffalo Launch Club.
Still more attractions expected include a showing of high-performance fly-bys on the river. Barrick says visitors can experience "a flashy display" of up to 10 noisy, fast race boats that day, put on by the WNY Offshore Powerboat Association.
Antique and Classic Boat Show weekend gets underway at the BLC Friday, Sept. 7, with registration from noon to 5 p.m. A Friday "fun run" departs the club down to Canalside at 2 p.m., and evening programs back on Grand Island include a BLC "pit party" (open to adults and children) with Buffalo-style food offerings plus music and trivia contests with prizes and more.
Saturday's program kicks off with registration from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. with the opening day flag ceremony at 10:05 a.m. Vendors will be on site from 9 a.m. onward and the show will be open to the general public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visitors are invited to stroll the BLC grounds and check out some classics - on land with select boat displays plus the NFACB Classic Car Show, and in the water with a number of classics dockside.
Day activities will see children's programs offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the aforementioned seminar, "Dart Boat History with Fond Memories of Jim Holler" from noon to 3:30 p.m.; junior judging at 1 p.m.; and a 3 p.m. basket raffle draw.
The show award's presentation and steak and corn roast dinner will take place that evening from 6 to 10 p.m. on the BLC grounds.
Sunday activities wrap up with a fun run around the Island to Niagara Falls and back, from 8:30 to 11 a.m.
The 40th annual Antique and Classic Boat Show is free and open to the public to attend. (Cost to attend the Friday and Saturday evening dinner programs, plus other activities is extra.) Parking will be available on the BLC grounds for $10 per vehicle.