Setting Sail

Wilmington Boat Show is afloat with protocols

Jeff Nass Photo Wilmington 2018 91

In spite of the tumultuous waters of a pandemic, the Wilmington Boat Show is forging forward with plans for a fun and safe event. JACQUI McGUINNESS is at the helm.

McGuinness, president of boat show production firm JBM & Associates, will present the event October 9-11 at the Wilmington Convention Center, the Port City Marina, and Battleship North Carolina.

“It’s the biggest event since COVID-19 shut (public events) down,” McGuinness says. “We had a really hard time with shows being canceled, like everyone else. My team and I are so used to taking five steps forward and four steps back, like running a very slow marathon.”

McGuinness says that her team’s mantra during the pandemic has been “resilience,” and that resilience has paid off, and the show will go on within the appropriate safety parameters.

“We have been in constant contact with the convention center, the city, our partners, everyone in our world, and are working within all the guidelines that the city and state have laid out,” McGuinness says. “We have sixty vendors with plenty of space. It is a big footprint, between the marina and the convention center.”

Safety measures include encouraging visitors to buy tickets in advance, but the enclosed box office also will sell tickets. In addition, organizers have limited the number of boat dealers in the convention center’s exhibit hall and have made sure the booths in the main ballroom and on the pier are spread out. Sanitizing stations will be available throughout the space.

“We’re not having any special features and doing away with anything that can draw a crowd,” McGuinness explains. “We are not letting people gather; there will be no live music and no bouncy houses. Food trucks will be on hand in the boatyard, so it will be business as usual, just highlighting the products and services within the boating industry.”

The Wilmington Boat Show will follow all the necessary protocols including requiring masks, displaying appropriate signage for social distancing, and having additional staff to monitor and ensure safety for guests.

“We have been together for a long time, and I have been in the event business for thirty years and worked with the convention center’s Fredia Brady for years, having done several boat shows with her in her previous position in Savannah,” McGuinness says. “We have these relationships with people and we all are dealing with it together.

“It is a huge economic impact that we make with our shows. This is not just about me; it is also about all the people affected, all the small businesses and vendors.”

Boats to Boast

Where: Wilmington Convention Center • Port City Marina • Battleship North Carolina (park and ride the free ferry to show)

When: Friday, October 9, noon to 6 p.m. • Saturday, October 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m • Sunday, October 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Tickets: Friday Only (adults and children 4+): $5 •(Saturday and Sunday): adults $8; children (4-12): $5; children 3 and under: free

Categories: Culture