Boat Show on the Bay, and Blue Wahoos Baseball

With the warmer weather upon us, outdoor events and festivals are everywhere in the Scenic 98 Coastal footprint. It’s also the start of baseball season. Two kid-friendly events this weekend are the Boat Show on the Bay in Mobile and the Blue Wahoos opening weekend in Pensacola. WKRG News 5 is the exclusive broadcast sponsor for both events, and the focus is definitely on the kids.

I sat down with Madison Richey, with Bay Shore Strategies, who has helped organize and manage Boat Show on the Bay, now in its fourth year. Blue Wahoos Corporate Sales Executive, Tyler Johnson, informed me about what to expect, especially regarding kids. Suffice it to say there will be plenty going on this weekend to keep the kiddos happy!

Madison works closely with Dustin Jackson, one of the founders of Boat Show on the Bay. Dustin owns EZN Detail and Storage and EZN Outfitters in Saraland. Inspiration for the boat show came when other Gulf Coast boat shows were canceled  because of the pandemic, in 2021

"A big chunk of EZN Outfitter's fishing and apparel business is at boat shows," says Madison. “After the boat shows were canceled, one day I was home with the flu when I received a call from Dustin. “Are you sitting down? I think we are going to have a boat show in the EZN Outfitters parking lot in 8 weeks.”

Dustin immediately called a few boat dealers to gauge interest and received a resounding response. “Everyone wanted in. Boat dealers sell a lot of boats at boat shows and with cancellations, their sales were suffering. Within the first two hours, every dealer and vendor Dustin contacted wanted in. With more interest than Madison and Dustin expected, they needed a bigger place to host the event.

Before the day was over, they met with the director of the USS Alabama Battleship Park and they agreed to host the show. “But we still only had 8 weeks to pull it together. That first year was quite an experience,” says Madison. It was by far the biggest event they’d ever done. “Battleship Park is used to hosting big events. They told us they had never met a more organized and efficient team. It absolutely changed our trajectory. We felt unstoppable.”

Necessity being the mother of invention, that first year was a huge success. “It was a skeleton of what it is today.” Now in its fourth year, Boat Show on the Bay encompasses the entire Battleship Park area featuring around ten boat dealers and over 100 vendors selling apparel, fishing, boating equipment, and more. There will be food trucks, music, and lots of fun things to do for the kids.

Open all weekend from Friday through Sunday, April 5-7, something is happening every day. On Saturday afternoon beginning at 4:30, Jesse Perry will play on the main stage. He will be followed by the Bruce Smelley band at 7 PM.

Kids and Pets are the main focus of entertainment at the event. The Kid’s Zone will have inflatables provided by CC’s Inflatables. There is a Foam Party Pit with a machine that blows bubbles and kids run through it. “For the parents, it’s priceless to watch their kids covered with bubbles from head to toe. Kids love it and it’s a great photo opportunity,” says Madison.

Once Upon a Time is a real-life princess party with a group of actors who will meander and interact with children each day. There will also be Super Heroes. Many of the kids dress up as their favorite characters and let their imaginations run wild as they visit with their “movie star” friends. Sunshine the Clown will be on hand. She is a local lady who has been portraying Sunshine for many years, and the kids love her.

On Sunday, the Mutti Gras Dog Costume Contest will be hosted by WKRG’s Weekend Anchor Akievia McFarland. “It’s one of my favorite parts of the show,” Madison tells me. “Dogs dressed up from head to tail will perform their best tricks  and compete in  several categories.” Madison will be one of the four judges for the event. Winners of the Talent/Fashion Show each get a trophy.  

Friday is Military and First Responders Day, and both active and retired personnel receive a discounted ticket. Kids 10 and under get in free and weekend passes are available. “There is a lot to see and do each day and we sell lots of weekend passes. Tickets are $15 per day including parking.”

WKRG’s Weekend Meteorologist Grant Skinner will emcee a VIP Dinner on Thursday evening. VIP guests receive different perks throughout the weekend including VIP parking. Yamaha is this year’s Presenting Sponsor and the WKRG Weather Beast will be on hand. Expect lots of swag to be given away.

“All in all, it’s a great family event,” said Madison. “We have become wise in planning and executing the Boat Show on the Bay. This is the third year that WKRG has been our exclusive broadcast partner. Why not have a boat show at the home of the biggest boat on the bay!”

On Friday, April 5, The Blue Wahoos will kick off the 69-home game season with a three-game series. Tyler “TJ” Johnson talked with me about what the season has in store. With sellouts on most Thursdays through Sunday games, The Blue Wahoos have become a can’t-miss family activity. WKRG has been the presenting sponsor for Family Nights on Sundays since 2019, and a member of their team throws out the first pitch at those games.

The Meteorologists on WKRG’s News 5 First Alert Storm Team are also the Official Forecasters for the Blue Wahoos.  In their newscasts, they air custom weather forecasts for every home game, and to let fans know what to expect, they even send one that airs at the stadium before the game begins.

TJ played baseball at LBW Community College and has been with the Wahoos since 2020. He earned his Sports Management degree with a minor in Hospitality Management from Troy University. A native of Pensacola, he interned with the Wahoos during his senior year of college before being hired full-time.

“WKRG Family Nights allows kids to run the bases after the game, and the station gives them a squishy baseball for participating. It’s not unusual for 250 to 500 kids to run the bases each game. It’s a continuous flow and parents love to get photos of their kids.”

“We do a lot of group activities and have a strong following.” He tells me that the stadium has been named the ‘Best Ballpark’ and ‘Ballpark with the Most Beautiful View’ by Baseball Digest. With a little over 5000 seats, the Blue Wahoos have over 1800 season ticket holders and host corporate events and birthday parties. “It’s a place you want to be,” he says.

The Blue Wahoos reside in the smallest market in their league and have the best attendance record. “We sell the fun, not just baseball.” He tells me it's the music, the graphics, and the in-game activities. “We have 12 Give-A-Ways on Friday nights during the season.”

This season, they will give away Military Mascot Bobbleheads, and military mascots dressed in uniforms of the five branches, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, will race each other. (TJ admits the races might be rigged) Other activities to entertain the kids include the Roach Run where 400 or so kids chase a roach mascot across the field.

Off-season, Blue Wahoos hosts Soul Bowl Youth Football. Six games are played at the stadium for teams with players 5 to 14 years old. “It’s a blast,” said TJ. They also host a college baseball tournament for teams from Wisconsin in March. Community Movie Night is another big hit.

Overlooking Pensacola Bay, the Blue Wahoos Stadium is a prime location. It is one of the primary reasons Pensacola’s waterfront and downtown area have seen such a resurgence. Quint and Rishy Studer are responsible for bringing the Double-A Major League Baseball team to the city.

Other owners include golfer, Bubba Watson, Tampa Bay Bucs Hall of Fame Linebacker and Super Bowl winner, Derrick Brooks, John List, and Dana Suskind, business partners with Studer Healthcare, and Bubba Watson’s business partner, Randell Wells. “The Studers are really involved,” says TJ. “They are always investing in the team, the players, and the employees. They are great owners to work for.”  

TJ tells me the Blue Wahoos are what made him decide to return to Pensacola after college. “It’s just a great organization. Pensacola is not just the beach anymore. It’s the community environment. There is always something going on, not only downtown but all across the area.”

We are indeed fortunate to have so much to do in the Scenic 98 Coastal area. We are also fortunate to have the team at WKRG News 5 to support and lend their expertise to make each event memorable. 

Thank you WKRG for making so much happen, especially for kids and community endeavors. It’s the way!

Apr 3, 2024
Events That Inspire

Join Our Community

Sign up below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter

* indicates required

More from 

Events That Inspire


View All