The first of 400 boats arrived Thursday to the I-X Center, in preparation for the 2018 Progressive Mid-America Boat Show, which takes place Jan. 18-21.

Cleveland is Ohio’s oldest and largest boat show, and this year, since no outdoor show is Cleveland, the event will feature the Fish NOW Expo, with a 5,000-gallon aquarium on wheels. Fishing experts will demonstrate how fish take bait and lures. And they’ll teach kids how to rig and use a cane fishing pole.

Vendors will also have kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. The Cleveland Metroparks will have the elCee 2 water taxi.

And the Put-in-Bay pavilion, with lobster bisque from the Boardwalk restaurant on South Bass Island and live music by popular island entertainers, including Ray Fogg and Westside Steve Simmons.

“It’s a little slice of Put-in-Bay in the dead of winter,” said show manager Bryan Ralston of the Lake Erie Marine Trade Association.

A couple other warm, water activities to look forward to when it’s freezing outside.

  • Go Dive Now pool: Try scuba diving in a wetsuit, with a certified instructor in a 30-foot, 15,000-gallon pool.
  • Boating Experience pavilion: Hands-on activities, including Capt. Willie’s Pirate Show for kids
  • Lake Erie University: Daily expert presentations on weather forecasting, Great Lakes ports and more.

The boat show weekend is a little vacation from winter in Cleveland. But it’s also big business, the best time to find a deal on a boat, Ralston says.

Boat dealers work with manufacturers to offer incentives, extended warranties and rebates, he said. And they’re all competing for your business in a month when no one in Ohio actually needs a boat.

“There’s no denying we do compete with each other for a market share whether we’re selling small aluminum skiffs or 50-foot motor yachts,” John Sima of Sima Marine said in a release. “And that’s never truer than when we’re looking across the aisle at each other on the floor of the boat show. The result is very competitive pricing, and ultimately, real savings for buyers.”

Of course, even if you’re not in the market to buy a boat, you might want to look at them.

“If it’s nice you want to go boating. In January, you want to plan to go boating.”

Going to the boat show? See you there! First, see all the details here.