NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 8, 2016) – Boating enthusiasts attending the 30th annual Progressive Nashville Boat & Sportshow at Music City Center are encouraged to navigate to the Corps of Engineers booth to get important information about local lakes before embarking on the water this recreation season.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District park rangers from Old Hickory and J. Percy Priest Lakes are stationed at booth 328 today until the end of the boat show Sunday to provide recreation, boating and water safety information, and to answer questions.
“It is great for us to interact and meet with the public and specifically talk with people from other states who will most likely frequent one of our Corps area lakes this summer,” said Park Ranger Dave Funderburk.
When the boat show opened 2 p.m. Thursday, Park Rangers Brent Sewell and Funderburk, both from Old Hickory Lake, talked to show goers about boating, water safety, life jackets, land boundaries, docks, and even their favorite lakes.
“The lakes on the Cumberland River are a jewel for Tennessee,” said boat captain, Kirk Fonte from Nashville, who stopped and talked to rangers about hiring more crew members. “We have some fine rangers and they do a great job.”
Funderburk said water safety is the key message presented to visitors who stop by. They can also grab free key chains, Frisbees, lake maps, brochures and learn how to properly wear and inflate a life jacket.
“It’s an opportunity for the public to ask us those unique questions about lakes, boating and water craft,” said Funderburk. “Events like this allow us to get the water safety and safe boating messages out to a wide range of people in a short amount of time.”
The four-day show expects 15,000 to 20,000 visitors and it runs Thursday through Sunday. There is a wide range of vendors, canoes, motorboats, pontoons, jet skis, kayaks and million dollar yachts on display. A constant stream of visitors stopped by the Corps’ booth on the first day.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is also highlighting their 65th anniversary trailer, showcasing the group's conservation work, and it includes replicas of the 1955 world record smallmouth caught in Dale Hollow Lake and state record largemouth bass caught at Chickamauga Lake.
Near the Corps’ booth 328, Kids ages 12 and younger can also fish for free in the Kids’ Trout Pond, and Paddlefest is showing off a new Flyboard in action.
Long time Old Hickory Lake Resident Chip Buckner noticed Sewell and Funderburk and stopped to chat and ask about boat specifications, lake events and fishing.
“Yes, it’s great to see my friends here and have the opportunity to ask questions or just get basic lake information,” Buckner said. “They do a great job out on the water and we’re proud to call them our friends.”
Other activities at the boat show include the simulated boat trip with the US Power Squadrons Boating Skills Virtual Trainer, Fred's Shed Interactive Learning Center, and fishing and boating seminars by Joey Moneleone.
The Nashville District operates 10 lakes in the Cumberland River Basin, which includes recreation areas and campgrounds. The district also provides collaborative water resource engineering solutions, world class public infrastructure management, and environmental stewardship for the Cumberland-Tennessee River Systems.
There were 14 fatalities at Nashville District lakes in 2015, which is an important factor that drives the park rangers to engage the public at events like at Music City Center.
“We want to encourage everyone to seriously think about boating and water safety, so they aren’t taking unnecessary risks that increase the chances of being involved in an accident,” said Funderburk.
The event began Thursday and remains open noon-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Music City Center, which is located at 201 Fifth Ave. S. Tickets are $12 and the event is free for ages 15 and younger and for military. For details visit www.nashvilleboatshow.com.
(The public can get more water safety information at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/WaterSafety.aspx and local lake information at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Locations/Lakes.aspx. The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)