2013 Sunnyland Festival

The 26th Annual Sunnyland Antique Boat Festival, held for the 6th year at Wooten Park in Tavares, was a great show but we were hampered by poor weather through-out the week end. For some reason Florida had some unusual colder weather in March and we felt the blunt of it on Sunday when we pulled all the water boats early in an attempt to not damage the 119 boats in the water from high winds.

 In preparation for the show, the City of Tavares insured that Wooton Park was in perfect shape for our annual event and each year there are more features to enhance the show. This year participants were afforded an opportunity to stay in the beautiful new Lakeview Inn, located across from the ramp. In addition, the Barbecue restaurant has been converted to a Beach restaurant complete with a real sand floor.

 This year we had a vintage Rail Road Steam Engine pulling antique passenger cars from the train station at the show site. Show participants had an opportunity to take a two hour ride on the train that has been featured in 13 different movies. The Central Florida Woody Car Club was co-located on the lawn at ALS’s Restaurant and on Saturday all the vintage railroad “Speeders” passed in front of the show on the recently re-built tracks.

 When you combine the old boats, woody cars and the steam engine, it was a glimpse into the past when life was not quite as hectic and there were multiple modes of travel. When you add it all up, we had over 100 vintage boats in the water, 50 on land display, 55 boats for sale, 10 Woody Cars, 9 boats from the Florida Glaspar Club, 70 Flea Market vendors and several displays of vintage outboard motors. We had attendance from 27 different states and several boats and guests from Canada. The farthest boat came from western Canada and top honors went to “McKenzie” a 1929 Hacker Craft, owned by Mark Andreae from Ohio.

There is no other show in the country that features everything that the Sunnyland Show offers.

This year our Marquee Class was Lyman Boats and we had several beautiful boats from all over the East Coast. Michael Lloyd from the Lyman Organization did a presentation on the history of the boats, and at conclusion of the dinner banquet we raffled the Lyman painting to a lucky Lyman owner

 The Sunnyland Volunteers make this event very special and our Tractor Valet Parking service affords every participant the maximum time on the water. When you arrive at our show, you know that you are well cared for and you don’t have to worry about where to park your trailer.

All the Sunnyland volunteers stepped up for the challenge and all four days were very smooth and everyone had a wonderful time. On Thursday evening several Corporate Sponsors hosted a wine and cheese party at the new Hoity Toity Antique store in Tavares. 

 On Friday, 33 boats departed the docks at Wooten Park and headed thru the historic Dora canal en-route to the picnic at Hickory Point. A barbecue lunch was served and all attendees were entertained by a local Blue Grass Band. After the picnic, all the boats made their way back thru the canal to the docks.  Friday evening we had the traditional Captain's Party on site at the show followed by a huge auction to raise money for Sunnyland's youth program, SCAMPY. The auction as a huge success.

On Saturday at 930am, the blast from the cannon signaled the start of the show and Flotilla 43 from the Lake County Coast Auxiliary presented the Nation's Colors. Sherry Barrens sang the National Anthem to a large patriotic crowd.

 Our youth program continues to grow, and this year we had three different launching events for the kids. Several young boating enthusiasts were schooled in the art of Judging and they all choose a boat named “Retrospective”, a 2005 22 foot H craft owned by H Smith from Georgia.

 Saturday night we had an outstanding dinner catered by Carrabba's Restaurant and everyone agreed this was the best dinner they have ever had at a boat show. In fact, the restaurant staff was given a “Standing Ovation" for the meal and the service.

Sunday morning we made a decision based on the weather forecast to pull the water boats starting at 9am and this proved to be a very wise move. The winds steadily increased and the water was pounding the docks- it was very difficult to retrieve all the boats, but all the Sunnyland Volunteers came together and we got all the boats back on trailers without incident. We had the awards ceremony in the middle of the storm and we had to cancel Church Services because of the high winds.

 The Sunnyland Ship's Store was in full production for three days and did an outstanding job of selling a large inventory of nautical clothing. All the show T-shirts were sold and posters painted and designed by Karen Wood-Thomas were big sellers. Sunday’s ticket sales were cancelled because of the storm and by 3pm the park was cleared and everyone headed home - just before a large rainstorm.

There are over 200 volunteers working on 29 different committees that make our annual boat show happen. We welcome new people and we always need help. We will start the preparation for the 2014 show in October and if you want to be part of something special, please join us. When you combine our north and southbound river cruises into our event, its two weeks of fantastic Antique Boating.

Congratulations to all of you who un–selfishly gave so much, I am proud to be the Chairman of this spectacular event and I sincerely thank all of you for your untiring support. The date for the show next year is, March 28-30, 2014

Terry Fiest

Chairman Sunnyland Antique Boat Festival                                  

Click here to see photos