Despite some of the coldest conditions for a morning in Florida, boat and seafood lovers headed to Lovers Key State Park Event Field this past weekend to enjoy the annual boat show and seafood festival. .
The event, organized by the Bonita Springs Rotary Club and the Friends of Lovers Key, brought people like Jim Lovering from Wisconsin to check out the boats.
Lovering stays in Fort Myers Beach each winter for a month. “I’m just watching today.”
Lovering said he grew up around boats but had to give up his boat, as well as his snowmobile when he retired. “You have to get rid of your toys from time to time,” he said.
“I was born and raised with boats” he said. Growing up in Cedarburg, north of Milwaukee, her family owned an old fiberglass Dorsett boat and cabin that her father purchased in 1958.
Lovering said the family would tow the boat “all over Wisconsin.
He said his favorite boat at the show this weekend was the Crevalle center console, with a 400 horsepower Mercury Verado engine.
“I’m a power guy,” Lovering said. “In Wisconsin, we’re big on pontoons. We put grills in them and decorate them for the 4th of July.
The Crevalle that Lovering spotted was one of several boats offered by Bay Marine of Fort Myers, just off Summerlin Road, a few miles from Fort Myers Beach. The Wisconsin-based company opened in 2020.
Mike Murphy, owner of Marina Mike’s in Fort Myers, brought 13 boats to the show. He sold three on Friday. Speaking on Saturday morning, Murphy said boat activity was going “Very good. We are lucky to have an inventory. A lot of people have nothing.”
Murphy said saltwater pontoon boats and bay boats were the most popular with customers. He sells around 200 Bennington boats a year.
Among the most eye-catching boats he had for sale was a 28-foot Bluewave bay boat, or fishing boat. Priced at $200,000, the boat comes with a 425 horsepower engine.
“The market is turning to bay boats because bay boats can do inland and offshore,” Murphy said. “There have been a lot of new boaters over the past year which is good to see.”
Amy and Philip, from Cincinnati, were more focused on food. Although they declined to provide their last names when trying the fried alligator at the seafood table for the first time, Amy was candid in her assessment. “Juicy,” she said. “It tastes like chicken.”