On a drizzly, sub-60-degree South Florida morning,
Near the shore that houses Miami Marine Stadium, a white boat comes closer against a backdrop of Miami’s skyline. Aboard is the Miami International Boat Show’s director, Larry Berryman, who has ventured from his Cutler Bay home.
As soon as Berryman's 29-foot custom center-console craft arrives, you can’t help but feel a bit warmer. He has the type of energy and visible passion for all he does that can make the grumpiest of pre-coffee folks come to life.
It’s clear a good chunk of this passion is going into this year’s boat show, which kicks off on Valentine’s Day and runs through February 18.
“Year one here was a bit like exploring the moon, trying to find the best way around,” he says of Miami Marine Stadium on a tour of the grounds. “Now we’ve found even more ways to eliminate waste and save more time. In fact, we’re about two days ahead of schedule in building this out.”
A Miami native and an accomplished boater and fisherman, Berryman has had a unique journey with the boat show. In 2000, he was hired as a sales coordinator for the Progressive Insurance Tampa and Atlanta Boat Shows and provided ongoing management support for the Miami show. He rose the ranks over the years and, in 2018, was named
This year marks the 78th Miami International Boat Show, which, before moving to Miami Marine Stadium, was housed at Miami Beach Convention Center. The first show, back in 1941, had one tent and 50 boats. This year’s spectacle is slated to host more than 1,400 boats on land and in the water, 1,100 exhibitors, and more than 100,000 attendees.
“Location, location, location,” says Berryman, pointing toward the stadium and more than 1,800 linear feet of space that will host in-water craft. “Just look at this backdrop. And our ability to take customers on a sea trial is what distinguishes us from any other show. If you want to take a lot of these boats for a spin, you can.”
In addition to the latest boat models, there are some new components to the Miami International Boat Show this year. Perhaps most noteworthy is the Costa Conservation Village, featuring more than a dozen exhibitors informing attendees about environmental issues, from game fish conservation to protecting marine ecosystems. Exhibitors include the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Captains for Clean Water, among others.
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Getting to the boat show will be easier than ever, with free water taxi and shuttle bus services from a number of locations throughout town.
As the cruise around Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin comes to a close, a few dolphins emerge just feet from the boat.
“When the dolphins follow you, you know you’re going to have a good day,” Berryman says. And by all indications, it’s shaping up to be a good year for the boat show.
Miami International Boat Show. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, February 14, through Monday, February 18, at Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin, 3501 Rickenbacker Cswy., Miami; miamiboatshow.com. Tickets cost $25 to $175 via miamiboatshow.com.