The Kelowna Yacht Club is celebrating its 16th annual Boat & Leisure Show this weekend and dozens of exhibitors have packed into the parking lot and marina at the foot of Doyle Avenue.
“We are just thrilled that all of the dealers and exhibitors support us year after year,” says Lisa McHaffie, chair of the organizing committee.
“While this is a lot of work, it’s also a lot of fun, and the money we raise helps hundred of boaters every year.”
This event is the major fundraiser for the yacht club, which takes all the money it generates through exhibitor fees and puts it toward the free public mooring buoys that are used up and down the lake for safe anchorage (there are 37 between the bridge and Caesar's Landing). This will also be the last time the event showcases so many land based exhibits, before it reverts back to its roots as a mostly floating trade show due to the construction of the new yacht club.
“If anyone is interested in a boat this year, this is probably the place to be, because all of the dealers have their stuff here and they’re really willing to deal,” says Ken Smith, media relations with the yacht club.
Aside from the many different types of boats, cruisers and customized watercraft available at the show, there are also a number of canoes, kayaks and other human powered watercraft. Boating gear like wakeboards, towropes, clothing and audio equipment is also available.
The Kelowna show has been called a leading example of how a yacht club can interact with its community. Smith points out many people may still consider a yacht club as simply a haven for rich snobs, but that is no longer the case.
“We have everybody from people working in retail right up to presidents of companies. And everybody is the same when you’re a boater. It’s a community and a wonderful place to be.”
Memberships are still available and Smith says it’s cheaper belonging to a yacht club than it is to put a child into a hockey program – pegging membership fees at around $1 per day. That allows access to the dining room, lounge, moorage and possibly the only yacht club in North America to have a French immersion sailing school for kids.
The boat show itself is open until 5 p.m. Saturday and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The event is free of charge, but people are asked to make a donation to the food bank and organizers hope to fill an inflatable boat, which will later be awarded as a door prize.