From  www.cottagecountrynow.ca/


In the fall of 1992, Ron and Diane Fulton began thinking hard about the Antique and Classic Boat Society’s annual show for the first time. Since then they haven’t gone a day without the nautical event crossing their minds.

“The first show in Graven­hurst was ’93 and we’ve been helping ever since.” Ron said. “We start working on the next show as soon as one is over.”

As boat show facilitators, the couple’s responsibilities range from obtaining permits to filling subcontract positions, 80 per cent of which are signed locally. They also arrange for local organizations to volunteer time in exchange for an honorarium after the event.

“We fill in all the gaps that are needed to take it from the bare empty park as you see it now to the way it is when the show opens at 9 a.m. Saturday morning,” Ron said. “We do all the background behind-the-scenes stuff that everyone just takes for granted.”

Nineteen years of dedication, all from a couple without a boat.

“It’s about keeping the tradition alive and in the eyes of the local people,” Ron said, explaining his commitment to the event. “It’s something the town needs to be proud of.”

His wife echoed this passion when stating her reason for being involved.

“This is part of the heritage of this little town and it needs to be shouted out from the rooftops. This is who we are, this is what we’re about and this is a way of keeping that alive.”

Desiring a taste of this small town’s identity, the Fultons left the rapidly evolving city of Barrie in 1985. Following the footsteps of family members, the Fultons moved to Gravenhurst and immediately submerged themselves into community events.

“One of the reasons we got involved with the special events was to push the local economy, to promote Gravenhurst as a destination place and help those local merchants who, over time, you get to know personally,” Ron said. “The boat show is a community event and it’s all non-profit. It’s not some private organization coming into town and trying to take out a truckload of money and run away with it.”

Approximately 4,000 people, about one-third of Gravenhurst’s population, flood into the town for the one-day event.

“I don’t believe that there is another event in Muskoka that brings in 4,000 people in an eight-hour span,” Ron said. “We can bring the people to the wharf; it’s up to the merchants to take advantage of it.”

This is the message both the Fultons and the Antique and Classic Boat Society are trying to spread.

“What we’re working on this year is getting the involvement of more of the local merchants from the area so they’re going to feel like they own it too,” Diane said. “This is a little town that needs this economic boost (for) those lovely people that take the effort to start up a business in our town and try to make a go at it; it’d be nice to see them grow a little bit more.”

This year’s Antique and Classic Boat Society show takes place July 9 at Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst.