By land and water
Boat and auto show features the latest models and technology

Dawn Ostrem
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 10/00) - The market for boats is alive and thriving in the North. Last weekend's Boat and Auto Show 2000 in Yellowknife was proof of that.

About 1,800 people, who turned out for the May 6-7 event, were treated to the latest in boat and marine technology and the latest in automobile technology, courtesy of Chrysler.

"It's an extremely good territory," said Crestliner Boats factory representative Ron Boggs, who made the trip North from Montana.

"People here like to own boats and it's a real recreation area. It's just as productive for us as the bigger shows are in places like Vancouver."

The event, which was held at the Yellowknife Community Arena, was organized by Doug Witty, owner of Force One.

His company carries manufacturer names like Lund, Crestliner and Bayliner -- basic aluminum fishing boats to top-of-the-line marine transportation. Yamaha and Polaris products were also showcased along with chainsaws, canoes and inflatable boats.

Something new and different at the show was the inflatable trampoline, says Witty.

"It's designed to inflate and you push it out into the water and anchor it," he said. "So now you can tell people to go jump in the lake."

Witty has been running the boat show for the past six years and says it's easy to entice his target market because many residents are involved in outdoor activities.

"Yellowknife is a very active and outdoor- oriented community," he said. "Our target market is narrowed down easily to just about everyone."

The event has grown in popularity, and Witty decided it was time for a change and invited Yellowknife Chrysler to take part.

"It's gotten a lot bigger. Our lines have expanded and we've got more products," he said. "We're partnering with Chrysler to give us another cross-section of people."

Chrysler also promoted the Ram, Dakota and Durango automobiles over the weekend.

Yk Chrysler owner Bob Aaltonen said it's good for him to connect with the boat show and, more importantly, with the people who need to tow their boats.

The 2000 and 2001 models, including the Dodge Caravan, received some good responses from consumers, said Aaltonen -- especially the new entertainment centres installed in some of the vehicles.

"People say it's a great idea," he said, referring to the video and audio units that include a TV, VCR and Playstation.

"When people here drive to Edmonton it's such a long drive, especially if you have kids. There hasn't been that much (exposure to the technology) up here but it's a big trend now and really taking off in the south."

Chrysler installs the units as an accessory and sold its first one May 5.

Other support services at the show included a Canada Coast Guard booth, Peterson's Point Lake Lodge and the Yellowknife Dirt Rider's Club