Geneva Lakes Antique Boat Show

Geneva Lakes Antique Boat Show


We have quite a few things to do between now and then. First, we have to work. This is the unfortunate part of our schedules. Then some of us have children to raise, feed, chastise. Others have nothing to do but enjoy the sunshine, those rays that are still bright and warm but will soon enough be only bright. I know I have a chipped tooth that is entering its fifth week of existence, and only a paralyzing fear of visiting a dentist keeps me from remedying the situation. Perhaps this week I’ll take action on that tooth, though perhaps not. I have other things to do too. I have to do some caulking on my house, an exercise made somewhat urgent by the season. And once I do this and you do that, then we have to be at the lake this weekend for the boat show.

The term boat show is a bad term. It conjures up thoughts of convention centers, bright lights, the smell of synthetic materials and images of people with pale skin and coats on their backs. This isn’t the sort of boat show we have on our schedule, because, well, because it isn’t January. Instead, this is a boat show where we celebrate not what’s new and not what thing it is that we perceive to be the latest, the greatest, the fastest and the smoothest. This is a show where we celebrate mahogany, chrome, large engines and straight pipes. This is a celebration of all things America. This is a show where we celebrate the wooden boat.

I know, I know, you have a fiberglass Sea Ray and you just love it. I know. The inboard/outboard engine is really slick, and your maneuverability is unrivaled. I know all of this about your boat. But I know that your boat doesn’t even register in the field of vision, nor in the imagination of the mind when it is floating next to a piece of water worthy furniture. This weekend is the Geneva Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show, and if you have life in your bones, you’ll make sure you attend this wonderful event. The Abbey is the host, with the Harbor playing the role of aquatic parking lot, and the event features eye candy of varying shapes and sizes. It is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the weekends of our year that cannot be missed.

There will be boats on display, each polished and shined to where their wooden surfaces are less dense wood and more slippery mirror, and some of these boats will be for sale. You needn’t buy a boat here this weekend, but if you get caught up in the frenzy of throaty engines and classic lines, we’d all understand. There are many activities that play out within the broader context of this event, including a Friday boat tour through three of the finer homes on Geneva Lake. There are dinner receptions, awards, etc and etc. There are all sorts of activities if you wish to partake in something deeper than the immediate visual stimulation. I, for one, need nothing from the boat show except to walk the grounds, peruse the boats, pick out which one I like the best, lust over it for some time, and then slowly walk back to my car as the realization that I will likely never own one of these boats washes over me. I’ll then sit in my car, pounding my hands against my steering wheel, sobbing as I spit out the words, why, why, why…

Not especially, but intense wood boat jealousy is a very common side affect of attending this show. Even so, it’s good to see these boats and rejoice in their wooden majesty. The shameful envy aside, there are true victims in this show, and we must pause to recognize them. These victims are not easily recognizable, because they are cleaned and made ready for the world to see. Everyone can put on make up or nice clothes to hide their personal realities, and it is no different for these victims this weekend. Those whom we need to keep in our prayers this week as we head towards the show are not people, per say, but instead they are the boats themselves.

Not all of them, mind you, as some of these boats are simply making a trip from one pier on this lake into the harbor. The sympathies here extend to those other boats. To the boats that are being pulled from whatever their home lake is, in order to be made ready for their appearance at the big show. These boats come from other lakes, which is to alternately spell the word “lesser” as “other”. These boats hail from lakes in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and other places not near here. These boats have one shot at glory each year, and that opportunity comes this weekend when their hulls get to be ceremoniously baptized in the healing waters of Geneva Lake, their salvation assured, if only for the weekend. This is a torture kin to giving a refugee a full Thanksgiving meal, to treat them to pure style and indulgence on a Thursday and them ship them back to their miserable homeland on Friday morning. Yes, Thursday was great, but it sure does make Friday look even worse.

This is what it’s like for these boats. They are brought to their mecca, to frolic and float, to cruise and to roast, to enjoy all that they have ever dreamed of. Sadly, once their time here is over they will be returned to their chains, shackled to a trailer and pulled against their will back to wherever their owner has chosen as their forced home. This is sad, and remember when you look at these boats that it is a very, very difficult weekend for them. They get to be taunted by the boats stacked next to them, jeered by those other boats that are fortunate enough to call Lake Geneva home. They are shown with pride by their owners, sure, but deep inside they are all suffering from a most intense lack of self confidence. And who could blame them? Not me, because I understand their plight.

This weekend, perhaps consider buying a boat from one of these other lakes. It’s like a Boat Rescue, where the boat is just okay and it might smoke a bit and the varnish might look as though it had been applied with a sloppy rag, but that boat is no less deserving of a loving Lake Geneva home than any other boat. Put this weekend on your calendar and make sure we see you on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. And if your heart breaks at the site of a few of these poor souls, don’t be shy about letting one follow you home.

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