Once upon a time, Marina del Rey had an annual boat show and all the townspeople came to walk amongst the many boats and booths. These were fine times and happiness rang throughout the land. But then, shrouded in darkness, an evil economy came along and destroyed the event and the people were sad. Through the years, efforts were made to revive the show, but nothing all that great came of them. Its time, it seemed, had come and gone.

In the end, however, this fairy tale could squeak out a happy ending. Six years ago, a small group of community members attempted to fill the void by starting a humble little event called Marinafest. It was far less grandiose than the large-scale boat shows of the past, but had something that the more recent shows didn’t have — a local heart.

“It quickly evolved into a desire to pull the community together to promote itself … in particular the boating aspects of this community,” said co-organizer Steve Curran, a yacht broker in Marina del Rey.

While Curran is interested in seeing the event encourage boat sales, Marinafest is rooted in a less commercial, more community-based philosophy. He spoke of the economic slowdown of the last six years and a “hugely negative effect” it has had on boating in general. Curran says there is a need to pull together, and an event like Marinafest can inject the necessary energy.

“The five of us, [including co-organizers Russ Carrington, Paul Skipper, David Maury and Christine Rohde] are really driven to do something more than a boat show,” Curran said.

And it is. In addition to 40 boats and 30 booths to check out, there will also be quite a few other activities to explore: water bus tours of the marina, classic yachts on display, face painting for the kids, model boat racing, a look at the sheriff’s patrol/fire boat, yacht club open houses and even some public sailing.

Organizers are proud this year’s event will be held on the grounds of Burton Chace Park. Last year Marinafest was held in a parking lot, and there’s no doubt the shift is a massive upgrade. The docks at Burton Chace have recently been upgraded, so there is lots of optimism surrounding the show.

“Having it at the park, instead of [a parking lot on] Bali Way, brought more boat businesses and really improved the attitude towards the event,” Curran said.

Marinafest happens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Call (310) 877-5500 or visit marinafest.com.

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