Vintage boats dock on Church St. Marketplace ahead of Saturday show

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 2:48 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 7:31 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - We’re used to seeing all manner of boats on Lake Champlain, but on Thursday four of them were docked on Church Street outside City Hall.

The boats were brought in by the Lake Champlain Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society to drum up traffic for their 35th Annual Vintage Boat Show happening this weekend.

People of all ages wandered up to look inside the four vessels and learn more, but the real attraction is set for Saturday’s show at the Burlington Harbor Marina.

Organizer Susan Haigh says despite it being a bit of a walk from downtown, it’ll be well worth it. “These boats were never intended to last this long. They are made out of material that needs preservation and a lot of work over time. They even smell good -- they’re made out of mahogany and cedar and they’re just a pleasure to work on and a whole lot of fun out on the lake.” she said.

“When we were driving by this morning we saw the boats being backed in on Church Street and I was like, ‘We have to go see those boats, they’re all wood! We have to go.’ They’re amazing and actually being able to hear the story of it and the history behind it made it even more special,” said Ellen Harrity, a visitor from Massachusetts.

Bob Woodard a member of the family who founded Woodard Marine, was displaying a 14-foot Woodard boat built in 1957.

While Woodard Marine still builds boats, their stock is mostly cleared out due to a boom in pandemic sales. He says they’ve been focusing on restoring boats lately, including the plywood version typically built during the ’40s.

“We tried throughout the time to build something a little bit better on each boat that we built, so none of them are exactly alike -- there seems to be a little bit of change on each one. As time got into the 50s, we were doing fins on the back like Chevrolets and Cadillacs and so on. Didn’t have anything to do with the usage of the boat, it just made it look different, more modern,” he said.

Woodard says the brand new outboard on the back provides some extra insurance to the vintage vessel.

Organizers say this weekend is a bit of a dry run for next year’s International Antique Boat Show in September, when they’re anticipating 150 boats to cruise their way down from Montreal for a whole weekend of fun.

The Annual Vintage Boat Show runs on Saturday from 8 to 4 and is completely free.

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