Russell Marine celebrated 60 years of business with its 18th annual In-Water Boat Show the last weekend of April at The Ridge Marina on Lake Martin, and turnout was the best it’s ever been, according to Russell Marine President Dave Commander.

Since 2001, Russell Marine has hosted this event, which has undoubtedly become the largest inland in-water boat show in the Southeast. Over the course of three days, record crowds of more than 1,000 people shopped, explored and demoed new boats and Sea-Doos from premiere manufacturers.

“It helped that we had awesome weather, and the economy is doing well. Those two things were a good combination, resulting in a great boat show,” said Commander. 

With more boats on display than ever before, there were about 80 boats in the water, and another 80 were parked on land. The selection was vast and ranged in color, size, price range, layouts and amenities. From pontoon boats and jet boats to new models of wakesurf and wakeboard boats, the display of water vessels did not disappoint. This led to the most boats sold compared to past years, Commander said.

“I talked to a lot of attendees, and many were from out of town and even out of state,” he added.

An interactive team of employees from Sea-Doo offered complimentary rides on the new three-seated watercraft and also unveiled the first PWC built for fishing. With an extended rear platform, GPS navigation, accessible front storage, rod holders, a cooler and more, this watercraft creates an alternative approach to fishing on Lake Martin.

“This model was well-received,” said Commander. “The Sea-Doo team was able to help out a lot, and more than 100 riders demoed on the course we had set up.”

Attendees could take a short trip around the lake in any number of boats on display, as well. 

“Representatives from every manufacturing company we carry were here helping out,” said Commander. “People were demoing boats all day.”

Organizations that support Lake Martin and keep lake-goers safe, including TowBoatUS and Lake Martin Resource Association, were available to provide additional information about their resources.

The Ridge Marina Pro Shop was loaded with on-sale clothing, gear and accessories to elevate a day on Lake Martin. 

Staff from 105.1 The Lake radio station broadcasted live from the event and kept customers entertained with interviews, music, prize announcements and more. Hundreds of rubber ducks were hidden on site, and prizes were given to anyone who found one – some extra special ducks led to extra special prizes.

“We had the Atlanta Steel Pan Band out on Saturday and Sunday, which really gave us a good lake feeling,” said Commander.

Catherine’s Market served up barbecue and hand-dipped ice cream and sold out all their food due to the record attendance.

“The boat show seems to get better and better every year with more and more people coming to the lake,” said Commander.