The annual Portage Lakes' July 4 celebration is fast approaching. It marks the 43rd year honoring the birth of this nation.

As in the past Dano Mundy and his gang have a bang-up July 4 planned. Only this year it’s celebrated in June, because July 4 falls in the middle of the next week. The big day is the weekend before, which just happens to be the last day of June.

But it really gets started the weekend before. That’s only two weeks from today.

On June 23, the 43rd annual Antique & Classic Boat Show takes place at the docks of the new Pick’s on PLX and Harbor Front Grille & Party Center waterfront restaurants. Both establishments are a stone’s throw away from each other on Portage Lakes Drive in Coventry Township, just west of the clock tower. By boat they’re located on West Reservoir.

The Antique & Classic Boat Show starts at 9 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m., or until the last of the crowd leaves. But the good news is that the admission is free and there will be drinks and food available for purchasing.

Boats from just about every era that are at least 25 years old and at one time may have cruised the Portage Lakes will be displayed for your enjoyment. Vintage wooden boats, old canoes, hand built boats, classic fiberglass boats, you name it and more than likely it’ll be there.

As in the past, the main sponsors are the Antique & Classic Boat Society/North Coast Ohio Chapter (ACBS/NCOC) and the Portage Lakes Historical Society (PLHS). Also, more than 50 fine local businesses and organizations have helped to sponsor this unique event, one of the longest running antique boat shows in the nation. 

More than 50 old vessels, both locally and from around the nation, are expected to be on display both in the water and on land for public viewing. Vintage wooden vessels manufactured by Chris Craft, Lyman and others, varnished and polished to a sparkling shine will be shown. The show also includes classic fiberglass boats, popular during the 1960s and ’70s.

The boats will be docked along the waterfront of the two restaurants for viewers to admire. This annual display of past elegance and superb craftsmanship from America’s skilled boat manufacturers draws boat lovers from all over.

Numerous awards in various categories will be awarded by judges who are knowledgeable experts of these old boats. The always popular "People’s Choice Award" will again be left to the viewers to vote for their favorite. This annual award is managed by the PLHS.

In keeping with tradition, judges will also award the annual Ned Mohrman Memorial Trophy for the best Portage Lakes boat. Mohrman, a long time Portage Lakes resident who once owned Sandy Beach Marina is known among locals as "Mr. Portage Lakes."

Come early, enjoy cold refreshments and dockside dining as you view these gleaming fiberglass boats and skillfully varnished, highly polished, beautiful floating wooden vessels.

An awards banquet will be held at the Turkeyfoot Island Club that day at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited as long as reservations are made no later than 24 hours before. Awards will be presented after the meal. For show and registration information, contact show chairman Gil Maringer at 216-310-7475 or email Gil at: gbmaringer@juno.com .

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning one of these classic beauties, bring along your checkbook and your best bargaining skills. Who knows. You may run into an owner who’s ready to move up and will agree to your quest to also become a captain.

One final note. The Portage Lakes are state park waters. Drinking alcoholic beverages on board a vessel is illegal. Any vessel with opened containers of alcoholic beverages will be subjected to the fullest extent of the law.

Comments may be emailed to: f.weaverjr@aol.com