Herald/Steven Doll - Kolton Hudson, 8, and his dad, Joshua, look at one of the boats at the 2011 Central Texas Boat Show Saturday afternoon at the Bell County Expo Center. The show continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today in Belton.

BELTON — Experienced and prospective boating, fishing and watersports enthusiasts are encouraged to check out the annual Central Texas Boat Show at the Bell County Expo Center this weekend.

“This is a perfect venue because we bring all these dealers together under one roof, with a lot of things to do, including activities for kids,” said Rick Smith, president of the Central Texas Marine Dealers.

The show kicks off at noon today with Military Appreciation Day.

Until 9 p.m., any Purple Heart recipient and all active-duty military members and their families get in free with a military ID.

Saturday and Sunday, doors will open at 10 a.m. Crappie fishing expert Tommy Tidwell will present free seminars at 1 p.m. both days on “secrets that can only be learned by spending countless hours on the water,” a news release stated.

Around 3 p.m. Saturday, the TuffMan Fishing Tournament weigh-ins will start. The top 62 teams from qualifying tournaments held on area lakes will see who caught the most fish by weight. The winning team wins a $10,000 prize.

Throughout the show, children’s events will be available, including catfishing, bumper boats and water bubble rides, for a small fee.

“We get a lot of families,” Smith said. “The trend we’ve seen the last few years is toward pontoons. A lot of the older generation is looking to get something dry and stable so they can take the grandkids out with them.”

Pontoon boats, as well as bass, ski, party and deck boats, will be on display at the show, along with numerous other watercraft from a number of marine dealers from cities between Waco and Austin.

Tackle, accessory and other vendors will be set up, along with multiple water safety demos.

“Anyone who’s interested in the outdoors and water recreation, this would be a great opportunity to come out,” Smith said.

Contact Audrey Spencer at aspencer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476

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