Antique Boat Museum sending boats to Great NY State Fair for new exhibit


2019 Great New York State Fair visitors will have the opportunity to row a skiff from the Antique Boat Museum on the State Fair Pond. Nearly a mini-marina on land will showcase 100 years of recreational boating vessels, including country singer Alan Jackson’s “Flat Top” cruiser. (Photo: Antique Boat Museum of Clayton, NY. )

(Syracuse, N.Y.) Recreational boats spanning the decades since 1913 in a dry-land marina. Current-model boats representing modern hull and propulsion design. Historic lighthouses and shipwrecks. Boating and aquatic science experts. On-the-State-Fair-pond skiff rowing opportunities. All this is part of the new Great New York State Fair Maritime Heritage showcase at the August 21-September 2, 2019 event in Syracuse, N.Y.

The Great New York State Fair, New York Sea Grant, the Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York, and H. Lee White Maritime Museum are sponsoring the “Cruising through the Ages” boating exhibit organized by New York Sea Grant with several contributing partners. Lead designer is Michael Pittavino, curator, H. Lee White Maritime Museum, Oswego, N.Y.

Visitors will tour the exhibit on an elevated dock through a multi-slip, land-based mini-marina in the NY Experience area of the NYS Fairgrounds. The boats on site will represent more than a century of recreational boating styles and equipment.

“New York Sea Grant is excited to be working with maritime history, recreational boating, and boating safety partners from across New York State to represent more than 100 years of boating development and provide Fair visitors the opportunity to ask experts about boating, water safety, water quality, and aquatic science technology,” said David G. White II, a coastal recreation and tourism and boating safety specialist with New York Sea Grant, Oswego, N.Y.

“This year’s Maritime Heritage exhibit at the Great New York State Fair will inspire visitors to take advantage of all the great water resources we have in New York State and to become informed stewards of those waters,” said New York State Fair Director Troy Waffner.

New York State’s premier maritime history museums providing vintage boats and engines for the exhibit include The Antique Boat Museum, Clayton; Finger Lakes Boating Museum, Hammondsport; and H. Lee White Maritime Museum, Oswego.

The family of the late Robert H. Wood, a World War II veteran and career educator in New York State, who organized summer boater safety training on Otisco Lake, has donated his 1967 Playmate runabout at the Fair as the New York Sea Grant Discover Clean and Safe Boating education vessel for 2019.

A boat once owned by country music star Alan Jackson is also part of the new exhibit. Contemporary boats from industry partners with locations statewide include electric, propane-powered, stern drive, and outboard models, and a sailboat.

A mini-NYS Fair Maritime Museum will highlight New York State’s historic lighthouses and “Waters of War” history and include a “History of Sturgeon in NY” display from the Cornell Biological Field Station.

A “mini-Marina Office” will provide a look at the history of boat engines provided by the Finger Lakes Boating Museum; “Clean, Drain, Dry” and safe boating information from New York Sea Grant; and historic NY shipwrecks interpretive panels.

Special demonstration days at the exhibit are as follow:
– Thursdays, August 22 and 29: Ask the Expert Boating Days: Life jacket and emergency flare demonstrations and Q and A with U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel

– Tuesday, August 27: Ask the Expert Water Technology Day: Great Lakes Research Consortium (GLRC) and New York Sea Grant demonstrations include remotely-operated aquatic research vessels and aerial drones. A GLRC remote data-sensing buoy will be in the State Fair pond transmitting data to the mini-marina exhibit.

– Wednesday, August 28: Ask the Expert Water Quality Day: Ask Great Lakes Research Consortium and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry faculty your questions about water quality issues and concerns.

On August 23, 26, 29 and 30, the Great New York State Fair and The Antique Boat Museum will offer free “On the State Fair Pond Skill Rowing” opportunities; life jackets will be provided. Stop by the pond in the NY Experience area of the fairgrounds for details.

To learn more about New York Sea Grant, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, visit For more information on the Great New York State Fair, visit

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