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Annual Jacksonville Boat Show, Oyster Jam a No-Go

Lindsey Kilbride

Updated 4:40 p.m. Tuesday

Barring a miracle, the annual Southeast U.S. Boat Show and Oyster Jam music festival in Jacksonville won’t be happening, organizers said.

Jacksonville spokeswoman Marsha Oliver said the event wasn’t officially canceled because the city never approved the dates for the April 21-23 event. Late payments from the 2016 boat show forced the city to give the dates for the use of Metropolitan Park to organizers of the Welcome to Rockville music festival, which begins the following weekend, she said. The amount due was $12,711. 

Boat show organizer Jimmy Hill said his company had just paid for a wrecked boat and “basically paid as fast as we could — and it got paid right away.”

Oliver said the payment was nine months late. The city put the boat show in contact with Rockville and the parties were trying to reach an agreement. 

“The resolution was to negotiate with the party that produces Rockville to help them deal with the economic impact of the additional move in days,” Hill said. “We literally agreed to every condition as they continued to come in after the fact.”

Hill said throughout the negotiation process he believed the event would happen. But Oliver said boat show organizers couldn’t agree to conditions and were notified Monday not to set up anything.

The boat show had been held in the city for more than 20 years, Hill said. Now, he added, he is having to notify 180 vendors last minute that it’s called off.

“This event is the economic engine that drives the boat industry and a lot of other vendors that are ancillary to that industry,” Hill said. “At this event, the boat industry will do as much as a third of their annual sales. It can be hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Editor's note: This story was updated with the total amount due to the city. 

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.