A separate event held in cooperation with the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival, the show will be located at Parc sur la Teche from Adams Street eastward.
Registered and expected to show in this year’s event are a 19-foot Thompson deep runabout; a 25-foot Caprice runabout, 17½-foot Lyman runabout; several Cajun skiffs and bateaus; pirogues, dugout canoes, sailboats and much more.
Participants are coming from as far away as the Texas Hill Country, Oklahoma and Florida.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into spreading the word,” co-organizer Roger Stouff said. “We have a website, Facebook page and have joined the Bayou Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society. Word of mouth has helped tremendously.”
Stouff and co-organizer Gary Blum visited the Billy Creel Memorial Boat Show in Biloxi, Miss., to rub shoulders with other wooden boat owners and fans as well as invite participants to the Franklin event. They also attended the Acadian Memorial Festival in St. Martinville this spring in another outreach effort.
“It’s paying off,” Blum said. “A lot of the people we met both places had already heard about our show, and many were very interested in attending. Many of them are coming this year.”
For a show that began as a spur-of-the-moment idea around a breakfast clutch three years ago, the BTWBS has grown from 12 boats the first year, 28 the second and possibly 50 or more this weekend. It’s become the fastest-growing event of its kind in the southeast, the organizers say.
“It’s not just about the boats,” Stouff said. “People fell in love with the Teche and with Franklin, and they spread the word among other wooden boat owners.”
The BTWBS even caught the attention of Southern Living magazine, and was included in the events section of their April issue.
“We started this thing because we appreciate wooden boats old and new, but it’s grown into something more,” Blum said. “It’s become an asset to the area, and to the Bear Festival.”
Stouff agreed. “These boats might be 100 years old or they might have been built this spring. Either way, we’ve found that visitors love the craftsmanship and beauty of these classic craft. They’ve found something we wooden boat people have known for a long time: There’s just nothing else like a wooden boat, the feel of it, the look of it and the amazing skill that goes into building it.”
The show runs from 6 p.m. Friday until 6 p.m. Sunday or when all of the participants make their way home. Some boats will arrive Friday, but the majority will come in Saturday morning, Stouff said.