CROSSLAKE -- To impress would-be buyers, some boat manufacturers today tout "100 percent wood-free construction."
Saturday in Crosslake you'll find at least 60 boaters who would question the appeal of that claim. For them, a boat made of anything else just doesn't measure up.
They're wood boat owners, a small but devoted group who in some cases spend thousands of dollars to maintain boats that other folks left in a patch of weeds behind the barn decades ago.
Dennis Madigan, who has organized the Whitefish Chain Antique and Classic Wood Boat Rendezvous for the past 14 years, is shown here with his 1961 Thompson runabout. Of course, the boat is made of wood. Yes, even the windshield. Look for this boat among 59 others at Saturday's show in Crosslake.
At the 19th annual Whitefish Chain Antique and Classic Wood Boat Rendezvous you can see the fruits of their labors. The show is one of the Upper Midwest's best displays of classic wood boats and it grows in popularity every year. Attendance last year totaled 4,500.
The show will feature 60 boats, 10 of which will be displayed on land for lack of dock space at Moonlite Bay Family Restaurant and Bar. The waiting list for future shows numbers seven.
A partial list of the classics at this year's show includes a 1935 Fitzgerald & Lee, 1918 Consolidated Launch, 1952 Falls Flyer, 1934 yacht tender (builder unknown), 1957 Carver, 1961 Thompson, 1938 Larson Deluxe Utility, 1955 Higgins, 1932 Garwood runabout with a Scripps V-12 engine, 1949 Peterborough and a rowboat with 2.5-horsepower engine mounted on the floor.
Boats are coming from as far away as the Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida and Arizona. Prices range from $1,000 to $500,000. Of special interest this year is a 1948 Chris Craft that once served as the mailboat on the Whitefish chain.
Here's a classic: a Chris Craft painted blue and red. The famed Wisconsin boat builder will have several representatives among the 60 boats at this year's Whitefish Chain Antique and Classic Wood Boat Rendezvous.
"This is known as a boat show with tremendous variety," said Dennis Madigan, who with his wife, Judy, has organized the show for the past 14 years. "You'll see a duck boat next to a 100-year-old launch next to a triple-cockpit runabout next to a canoe. We have aquacars, outboard motor displays, inboard motor displays. And it's a friendly show. The skippers will all be here, answering questions."
The show includes a parade on Cross Lake and a "fly-by" at the Moonlite Bay docks, where many of the boats will pass by. People can vote for their favorite boat, which will be awarded the People's Choice award.
"Thirty percent of the field is new this year," Dennis said. "We like to have continuity, it's like a family, but we also like to meet new people and get new ideas."
The show is free to the public.
If you go
What: 19th annual Whitefish Chain Antique and Classic Wood Boat Rendezvous
Where: Moonlite Bay Family Restaurant and Bar
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
Information: Call Dennis or Judy Madigan at (218) 543-6657
"People ask why we don't charge admission," Judy said. "First, it would be such a huge job. We don't want to do that. Second, how could we pay all our volunteer workers? If this was for-profit we would feel obligated to pay them. If it wasn't for our volunteer sponsors we couldn't have the show."
Dennis said two kinds of people come to the show: those who come for the memories and those who come through an interest in antiques.
This White Wings launch boat will be part of Saturday's boat show.
"Wooden boats were the first," Dennis said. "Even as late as 1942 the landing craft used by soldiers in World War II were wooden boats. Wooden boats are associated with inboard engines and that distinctive, rumbling sound. They're a thing of the past. Yes, you can get one manufactured this year, but it won't be like the boats you'll see here."
VINCE MEYER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5862.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.