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Whether you enjoy fishing, water sports, relaxing on the lake or simply spending quality time with friends and family, the boating industry has something to offer. The Knoxville Boat Show brought all that and more to the community’s doorstep this past weekend.

Downtown Knoxville welcomed the 12th annual boat show this past weekend, for one of its most financially successful shows yet at the Knoxville convention center.

The Downtown Knoxville Boat Show is independently run by the Jones family. Ryan Jones, product specialist at American Boat Center, decided to head-up this event after seeing the local need for one.

Jones started working in the boating industry in the mid-’90s, following in his father’s footsteps, and after seeing the decline in attendance at the boat show they were previously a part of, Jones and his wife Ashley decided to branch out.

“We just kind of grouped up and got everyone that is here in the building now to come with us and it has catapulted since then,” Jones said. “We try to work hard for them and every year it just keeps growing.”

This year, the Knoxville Boat Show was comprised of 13 local dealers all specializing in different types of boats.

In years past, the boat show demographic has been older couples, but, in recent years, dealers have seen that shift to younger families wanting to become boat owners.

This demographic shift may be, in part, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the higher risk it presents to older buyers. However, dealers have seen a generational shift due to consumers feeling that if they want to do it, they must do it now.

This past year, boat sales have increased exponentially as families have felt the need to find outdoor activities.

“Typically this show would result in dealers selling 25% of their annual sales, this year that has grown to 60% plus,” Jones said. “You know, our attendance may have been down, but our sales went way up.”

Ford approached the Jones family a few years ago in search of a partnership with the boat show, and since then has created an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork.

Through the boat show, Ford has also received an increase in sales, as well as further connections with the boating community.

The boating industry is currently primarily focused on family. Now, families can be safe and socially distanced on the water while still spending time with family.

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