AUGUSTA — Milton LeRoy said he grew up in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and spent his summers on a simple pontoon boat on a lake in the northern half of the state. He said it was nothing like the pontoon boats he saw Saturday.

LeRoy was one of the thousands to attend the 2018 Augusta Boat Show at the Augusta Civic Center. The show’s final day is Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We had this little dinky pontoon boat without any bells and whistles that we’d take to the lake, jump off, sleep and have a good time with,” LeRoy said. “But, man, these new boats are awesome.”

People look over the boats on display Saturday during the Augusta Boat Show in the Paul G. Poulin Auditorium of the Augusta Civic Center. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

One of the boats that caught LeRoy’s eye was Clark Marine’s Avalon Catalina funship, complete with top-deck water slide. The double-decker luxury pontoon boat was for sale for around $53,000, but there was some wiggle room in the price, according to one of the Clark Marine salespeople.

“If we had one of these growing up, I’m not sure we’d ever have gotten off the water,” LeRoy said.

Guests walking the arena floor had more than 75 boats to check out and learn about, including luxury pontoon boats from companies including Avalon and Bennington. About three dozen vendors were in the civic center’s north wing, as was a catch-and-release trout pond for young anglers looking to practice fishing.

“It’s been a decent show season, and all of our shows have produced 50 percent more than last year,” said Townsquare Media marketing president Julie Beaulieu, who runs the show. She said confidence in the economy is a big reason for more people coming to shows and spending money.

On the other side of the arena from the Clark display, Hamlin’s Marine, of Waterville, had a selection of luxury pontoon boats and other watercraft on display.

Dave Hamlin has operated the Waterville-based business for almost 35 years. He said the luxury pontoon boat has taken off in the last decade. Years ago, he said, wouldn’t have been able to imagine the types of pontoon boats available today.

More than 75 boats were on display at the Augusta Boat Show in the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday. Luxury pontoon boats have become more popular in the last decade. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“This started about eight years ago, because people were buying them to spend more time with family and have more people on the boats,” Hamlin said.

Some of the pontoons on display have seating for 12 to 16 passengers, room for fishing, storage throughout the deck and multiple areas for sunbathing and relaxing. It’s a far cry from the simple pontoon boats of the past.

“People from out of state came up here and started buying all the lake houses, and they wanted to bring their families,” Hamlin said. “They were buying pontoon boats because they wanted to be with their family, and this took off.”

Companies are trying to one-up each other with amenities and features. Hamlin flipped through a catalog showing that some companies offer more than a dozen pontoon-boat models with a variety of features and options.

“It’s hard for a dealer to figure out what sells,” he said.