Come see the classics

What: The 2012 Geneva Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show
When: Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the boat parade scheduled Saturday at 4 p.m.
Where: Abbey Marina and Harbor, 271 Fontana Boulevard, Fontana
Cost: Free!

 (Photo by Victoria McHugh)


Classic boats make their way to Abbey Harbor

By Edwin Scherzer


The 2012 Geneva Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show will make its way to the Abbey Harbor on Geneva Lake this weekend.

About 90 wooden boats from around the country, including many from the area will be on display for the public, with the highly anticipated boat parade-taking place Saturday Sept. 29.

The 13th annual show, scheduled Saturday and Sunday, is put on by the Black Hawk chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, an organization solely dedicated to the preservation, restoration and education involving wooden boats.

Larry Lange, chapter secretary, says the event has come a long way since its inception.

Dozens of wood and fiberglass boats from yesteryear will line the Abbey Harbor and parking lot this weekend during the 2012 Geneva Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show. (Photo submitted)

“It started out as a fall color tour and has really evolved,” he said. “(Geneva Lake is) an ideal place for a boat show, with a protected harbor.

“And the marina has been a great partner,” he added.

Although the show appeals to a wide variety of boating enthusiasts, even the casual observer can appreciate the history of the lake and the love classic boat owners and restorers put into their craft, according to Lange.

Al Bosworth, boat show chairman, says he and others in the chapter represent a critical passage in time,

“We’re the last generation of boat owners that had wooden boats.  Once you ride in one, you understand,” he said.

Larkin agreed, saying, “When you can smell the varnish, the vinyl, feel the water, it hits you.”

According to President Mark Svoboda, viewing the boats at the Abbey’s docks in Fontana is great, but the main attraction is the parade.

“The most exciting event is the boat parade, we even do a ‘gentleman start your engines’ announcement,” he said. “We have 5,000 people lining the harbor, plus a ton of boats bobbing on the water. Nobody does a parade like it at any other boat show.”

In addition to the public viewing, there is also a sold-out lake and house tour, an artist fair, and awards banquet Saturday evening.

This year, the banquet will have special significance because of a personal tribute planned to former boat craftsman and Lake Geneva resident Randy Streblow.

All of the officers in the chapter say Streblow was one of a kind.

“Many of his boats are still on the lake, with a specific design engineered for this environment,” Svoboda said. “He was a fabulous person who made boating fun and affordable.”

The men estimate that more than 100 boats built by the Streblow family are still on the lake.

Along with the nostalgia, pride of owning a piece of history and the historic nature of Lake Geneva, there also exists some sibling rivalry.

Photo by Victoria McHugh

There’s some good-natured teasing between the Chris Craft and Century boat owners within the club, according to organizers.

“It’s like a golf game on the water,” Bosworth said.

The chapter has also paved the way for future wooden boat admirers by forming a youth group.

Young members have already restored a 1951 Wolverine and are currently involved in restoring another.

Vice President Matt Byrne says his two sons are big fans of the niche lifestyle.

“It’s great to see all the kids have an interest in it,” he said.

Svoboda who has twin 7 year olds agrees.

“From sanding to staining to varnishing, they love it and they love getting it all over everything.”







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