Lake Lanier Boat show attendees walking on the dock from shore to the boat slips to view boats up close and in the water.

Lake Lanier Boat Show attendees cross the dock to view in-water boats.

In early March the Lake Lanier Boat Show brought in the crowds, doing exactly what organizers predicted when discussions began more than a year ago.

“Having a show right here on Lake Lanier with in-water and traditional options was just what we had in mind when talks first started,” said Tabor Reins, president of the Marine Trade Association of Metro Atlanta, organizers of the bi-annual event. Reins is also co-owner of Advantage Boat Center in Cumming. “Our dealers wanted a show close to home and we knew that the public would respond well to a North Georgia-based event, rather than driving into Atlanta. Our instincts were correct and based on our fall show last October and the spring show in March, we’re going to keep improving on a good idea.”

The 3-day show, held at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands, drew steady crowds of people interested in purchasing new boats or upgrading. Although the first day was cool and drizzly, the weather faired for Saturday and Sunday, giving a preview of the 2023 boating season.

“It was an excellent show,” said Heidi Moore, vice president of the Marine Trade Association and general manager of Skiers’ Marine in Gainesville. “I believe our attendees enjoyed an even larger selection of boats provided by more dealers, as well as an increase in vendors with plenty for the public to see and do.”

Local dealers offered more than 275 boat models representing more than 50 brands they sell around Lanier. Boat-show special pricing provided incentives for purchasers. Visitors were able to walk the docks, board the boats, speak with dealers and learn about the vessels.

“The camaraderie between our dealers and vendors is refreshing; we all banded together to provide a premier on-water event,” Moore said. “We’ve worked to design the show to be more than a boat show, offering an effortless, low-pressure boat buying experience. We plan to further expand it to help us promote a love of water and inspire our guests to imagine countless days spent out on the lake with family and friends.”

Mike Prince, owner of Grass Shack Marine in Buford said the show was a big success for the dealership. “The weather was a huge factor but as far as the show, it was as good as the Atlanta Boat Show s far as traffic and sales,” he said. “We love having it here on Lake Lanier, especially from a transport and logistics standpoint. We were able to move in and out in one work day instead of almost a whole week to go to Atlanta.”

Vendors ranged from dock builders to marine accessory suppliers, plus food trucks and dining at LandShark Landing.

Looking ahead to the fall show, Reins said he expects growth of the event.

“As the 2023 boating season slows down after summer, our dealers will have previews of the 2024 season models, as well as used boats to offer,” he said. “Margaritaville has been a good location and we truly appreciate our partnership with them. And we appreciate all the people who continue to support us and the Lake Lanier Boat Show.”

The organization’s fall Lake Lanier Boat Show takes place the weekend of September 29-October 1 at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands. For more information, visit

Photos: by Vicki Hope