Things to do at the show

2024 Show Highlights

Discover Boating Beach Club


Bring on the summer vibes. Kick back with your crew and discover the best of boating—enjoy live music, island-inspired cocktails and mocktails, beach games, and more.

Boat Apetit Chef-Off and Mix-Off: 1/13 at 1pm and 3pm, 1/14 at 1pm Prepare for boating-inspired culinary excitement with Boat Apetit Chef-Off and Mix-Off competitions on Saturday at 1pm and 3pm, followed by the grand showcase on Sunday at 1pm!

These events will be hosted by radio personality Tone Kapone and showcase Boat Apetit-inspired dishes and drinks, specially curated for easy preparation on a boat. Dishes and drinks will be judged by esteemed celebrity judges, including Chicago Bears football legend Izzy Idonije, and a lucky audience member. It's a recipe for a thrilling competition you won't want to miss!

Live DJ Sets from DJ Drea Jay

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paddle sports icon

PaddleFest Pool


Experience the fun of stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) and kayaking. We’ll provide all the gear and instructions you need to take a test ride.

Bumper Boats

NEW! Bumper Boats 


Kids can experience a splash-tastic adventure in our Bumper Boat pool, as they spin, whirl, and bump into their fellow boaters—it’s a smashing good time! Open to children ages 2 to 12.

Corona Find Your Beach Bar & Cantina
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Corona Find Your Beach Bar & Cantina


Put yourself in a vacation state of mind! Enjoy icy cold beverages and tasty casual fare. Todd Donnelly of the Mr. Myers Band will provide musical entertainment.

Fred's Shed
Fred's Shed

Fred’s Shed How-to Center—presented by Progressive®


Tips, tricks, and DIY advice for every boater—from first-timers to experienced captains. Have a boat or engine problem you haven’t been able to fix? Stop by and ask our tech expert about it.


Antique & Classic Boat Display


If you’re a fan of classic boats or simply appreciate the chance to see a bit of nautical history, be sure to visit this exhibit. Step back in time to admire the craftsmanship and beauty of vintage boats, presented by the Blackhawk Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society of America.

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Huck Finn Trout Pond

Kids’ Corner SPACE P1870

A show tradition! The catch-and-release fishing pond is a great way to introduce youngsters to the fun of fishing. Free for kids age 12 and younger!

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build a boat image

Chicago Maritime Arts Center

Kids’ Corner SPACE P1866

Build-a-Boat Contest 

Build a boat from aluminum foil and compete with other boat builders to see whose design can hold the most golf balls without sinking. Grand Prize: One Week Boating Skills Class.

Open to kids of all ages. Ages 10-14 eligible to win the Grand Prize.

Hands on STEM activities

Teach buoyancy, how winds power sailboats, and how to multiply power with simple machines. Also on display—real rowing skiffs built by kids!

NEW! Mechanical Wave Surf Simulator


Surf’s Up! Test your surfing skills aboard a real surfboard—without ever getting wet. Will you be able to “hang ten” or will you wipe out into the inflatable ocean?