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Chicago outdoors: Boat Show opens, bigger & different

“The Boat Show” has a boatload of new this year.

The Progressive Chicago Boat, RV and Strictly Sail Show opens Wednesday

and runs through Sunday at McCormick Place South Hall.

The two biggest changes are the move to the South Hall and the combination

with Strictly Sail. The constant, as in recent years, will be the appeal

of pontoons.

“It will be a very eclectic group,” said Betsey Arvai, marketing manager

for SkipperBud’s. “RVers are different than ponwerboaters, who are different

than sailboaters. I am excited to see the traffic. I think we will see a whole

different group.”

As a show preview, I did three questions (only Mike Ditka gets four questions

in the Sun-Times) on the phone with Arvai.

1) With the addition of the Strictly Sail, could you give a personality profile of

a sailboat buyer and a powerboat buyer?

Both are passionate about boating and want to be on the water. It is just how

fast they get there. Sometimes sailboaters turn into power boaters., for family

logistics. I don’t hear it going the other way much, but we are not in the sailboat

business. We sell used sailboats now and then, but we do not have new brand

at all. We store a ton of them.

2) What boats do you expect to be most checked out this year at SkipperBud’s

and what general type of boat do you expect to be the hit at the Boat Show?

We still expect pontoons to be the hot item. Scarab Jet Boats is up and coming.

But that pontoon market is still up. We are doing very well with them.

3) Do you expect a new have-to-have accessory to emerge at the Boat Show this year or have one you would recommend?

In water sports, it is those really cool diving boards, these huge tubes. It seems

like every year there is a new monster tube. They are the floating pieces of foam.

That is a cool accessory.

SPRINGFIELD: On his way out, former Gov. Pat Quinn repaid political

debts and vetoed House Bill 4226, which would have allowed restricted bobcat hunting.

That despite the bill being worked on for years and backed by Illinois’ own

wildlife professionals. . . . That sets up an interesting scenario. Rep. Wayne

Rosenthal, rumored to be the one to head the Illinois Department of

Natural Resources for Gov. Bruce Rauner, sponsored the bill.

HUNTING: Bowhunting for deer, likely to finish with harvest down even

from last year, ends on Sunday; as does archery turkey season. . . . The second

late-winter deer seasons are Friday through Sunday. . . . Goose season

ends in Illinois’ north zone on Thursday. Final numbers should indicate

a good season.

STRAY CAST: Early indications are the IDNR under Rauner will be like the

Blue Island SEPA station.