The boating lifestyle has surged in demand since the onset of the 2020 pandemic as we look for socially distant ways to enjoy time in fresh air and sunshine with our immediate family. 

classic boat festival
Over 100 boats are expected at this year's festival.

Maybe you’ve been thinking about getting into boating, too. Or perhaps you grew up boating on our local waterways with parents or grandparents in classic boats that bring back great memories. Or you might just want a great outdoor event to enjoy on a summer weekend this June. The good news is that there’s something for everyone at this Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS) Antique and Classic Boat Festival.

Over 100 boats are expected at the 2021 festival, which is also the Chesapeake Bay Chapter’s 33rd year hosting this show on the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD. From runabouts to yachts—including skiffs, utilities, workboats, racers, and hydroplanes—you’ll enjoy seeing the craftsmanship, speaking with owners, and learning their history. 

This June 18-20 event will also be the first ACBS boat festival on the Mid-Atlantic held since 2019 and likely the largest this year on the East Coast. 

If you grew up around classics, many of the boat brands you admired back in the day are expected to be on display across CBMM’s 17 acres. Look for Chris-Craft, Lyman, Larson, Gar Wood, Donzi, Trumpy, Dodge, Glastron, Elco, a 49-year-old Nova, Bender, Century, MirroCraft, Glasspar, Shepard, Aristo Craft, and Richardson boats, to name a few.

If achieving a piano finish on a classic wooden boat restoration is not your thing, there’s more good news. Many fiberglass and metal boats now qualify as classics if they were built pre-1996, so their owners regularly display at this event as well. 

classic boat festival
Photo by Scott Walberg

What To See and Do:

Special Features:

A very special, fully restored Chris-Craft Cobra will be at this year’s show—one of just 51 built during 1955 in a very limited production run. Yes, it’s the one with the signature gold tailfin, which makes it quite the show-stopper. The Cobra’s lines are so captivating that they are still impressive today. 

Take a Ride in a Classic Boat

Free boat rides each day! Some will be a thrill ride, plus a special two-and-a-half-hour cruise at 1:30 p.m. on Friday June 18 only. 

Boats for Sale (Field of Dreams)

The unexpected surge in boating since the pandemic hit last year has resulted in long waits and back-orders for new boats that still haven’t been filled. If you’re eager to get out on the water, perhaps it’s time to consider a used classic boat. You’ll find a great selection in size, style, and vintage boats for sale on display in the Field of Dreams. You may find your dream boat here, apply some TLC, and then decide to display it at next year’s show.

classic boat festival
You might just find your classic dream boat for sale at the Field of Dreams.


Once again, Jeff Beard has organized an amazing group of speakers who will conduct 50-minute seminars on Friday and Saturday.  

Friday, June 18

11 a.m. “Six Chesapeake Harbors—Cruising Destinations to Explore, Dock, Dine!” Presented by Chris “Seabuddy” Brown, top-selling cruising guide author

12 p.m. “Downeast Style Boats: Origins, Development of Predecessors of Picnic Boats” Presented by John Shannahan, president, Oxford Yacht Agency

1 p.m. “American Design, Asian Craftsmanship—The Story of Grand Banks Trawlers” Presented by John Shannahan, president, Oxford Yacht Agency

2 p.m. “Timid Tuna? Restoring Rybovich and Florida-Made Sport Fishing Boats” Presented by Reid Bandy of Bandy Boats, Edgewater, MD

3 p.m. “Sailor’s Style: Nautical Fashion and Yacht Club Attire” Presented by June Berger Beard, Dressed Mannequins by Karen Brenner

classic boat festival
Photo by Scott Walberg

Saturday, June 19

11 a.m. “Earliest Fiberglass Cabin Cruisers—Winner & Dyer to Hatteras & Bertram” Presented by Jeff Beard, past president, Chesapeake Bay Chapter, ACBS

12 p.m. “The Transition Years—Stylish Chris-Craft Cruisers of the 1950s and 1960s” Presented by Bill Bowman, Colonial Beach Yacht 

1 p.m. “Jersey Boys—Boat Builders CP Leek, Egg Harbor, Pacemaker, Post, Viking…” Presented by Captain Ken Kreisler, Yachting Magazine

2 p.m. “Old Bay and Oy Vey… Interesting History of the Region’s Favorite Spice” Presented by Deborah Weiner, Baltimore-based author and historian

3 p.m. “End of an Era of Steamboats on the Bay (Later than You Think!)” Presented by Pete Lesher, chief curator Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Seminars are FREE to all Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum members, Antique Boat Festival participants, and visitors who have paid admission to the museum grounds. Social distancing rules will be in effect for the seminars. 

classic boat festival
Visitors will find boats on display in the water and on land throughout the beautiful CBMM campus.

For Young Boaters

  • The Sea Scouts is a program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women 14-20 years of age. They’ll demonstrate boating skills and accomplishments. 
  • Hagerty Youth Judging invites aspiring teen boaters to judge several classic boats on Saturday for a special award given to a boat owner during Sunday’s ceremony.
  • Knot-Tying for Early Boaters: each participating child will learn how to tie a bow, then a bowline, a square knot, and a hitch with repeat practice, followed by a short movie via iPad demonstrating how other knots are tied. The children take their knot board home with them.

Maritime-Themed Artists and Vendors

The Arts at Navy Point is a show in itself within this Classic Boat Festival. It showcases the skills and talents of vendors all related in some way to boats, the water, or its surroundings. They have regional and national reputations for their work and in the past have come here from seven states. Many are juried fine artists and artisans, including painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, and model makers. You’ll also find antiques, clothing and home furnishings, boat catalogs, boat builders, boat restorers, rope vendors, and hard-to-find parts. For instance, Big Ship Salvage offers nautical antique ship lights and décor, including brass and copper lights, ship wheels, anchors, binnacles, telegraphs, and more.

For more information, visit Chesapeake Bay Antique and Classic Boat Society page and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's event page.

By Chris "Seabuddy" Brown