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Keels & Wheels: The Top U.S. Classic Car & Vintage Boat Celebration

Warm weather, close proximity to Greater Houston, and a variety of activities on the water make Seabrook the perfect spot to launch a memorable Galveston Bay Area getaway. The city is home to the third largest boating center in the United States, giving visitors ample opportunities for sailing, boat tours, fishing, and more.  Travelers can also visit the Kemah Boardwalk, Carothers Coastal Gardens, and the Space Center Houston to round out their trip.


Keels & Wheels is the largest classic car and vintage wooden boat show in the United States. It’s been the go-to automotive and boating event in the Galveston Bay Area for over two decades. This year’s event will take place May 6-7 at the Lakewood Yacht Club, which is located south of Downtown Seabrook. More than 200 cars and 100 boats will be featured at the event, bringing in more than 15,000 visitors from all over the globe. Patrons will have the opportunity to vote for the People's Choice Award, which chooses the top car and boat at the show, in addition to an impressive list of activities. To date, the event has donated more than $1.6 million in proceeds to benefit a variety of charitable causes in the community. We got the chance to interview Andrea Mehmandoost, a representative for the event, to learn more about this unique automotive experience.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

AM: Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance was founded by Lakewood Board Members Bob Fuller and Paul Merryman in 1995. The 2017 event will mark the 22nd year.  


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

AM: Event organizers expect more than 15,000 attendees.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

AM: Attendees and exhibitors come from every part of the United States. Keels & Wheels attracts a wide range of people because it mixes rare classic cars, antique boats, family-friendly activities, interesting vendors, and a beer and wine garden into one fun weekend event.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

AM: Keels & Wheels is a weekend-long, nationally acclaimed event that has become the largest classic car and vintage wooden boat show in the United States. Today, Keels & Wheels welcomes approximately 200 cars and 100 boats and has raised more than $1.6 million for local charities while drawing thousands of participants and spectators from all over the U.S. and Europe.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

AM: The event offers something for all, regardless of age, including:

  • The Concourse will feature the automobile marques of Stutz Motor Company, American 50’s classics and hot rods.

  • Attendees will have the chance to participate in activities like the Kids Build a Boat and Kids Build a Motor events, where kids get a hands-on building experience.

  • Guests get to vote in the People's Choice awards for their favorite classic cars and antique boats.

  • The event will feature food, beer and wine garden that is hosted by Shiner Bock and Haak Wine.

  • Bayway Lincoln and The Lincoln Motor Company will present a 2017 Lincoln Continental as this year’s official raffle vehicle.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

AM: Most hotels in the area offer a discounted rate for Keels & Wheels guests. A list of all the hotels and B&B’s in the Clear Lake area can be found on the website.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

AM: In addition to impacting local charities, the event brings together classic car and antique boat enthusiasts to appreciate a love for restoration and care of these rarities. Keels & Wheels brings history to those who lived through earlier times and introduces younger generations to both land and sea vehicles.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

AM: Yes, the economic impact on the Clear Lake area is estimated at $4.5 Million.


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?

AM: Keels & Wheels has benefited numerous charities over the last 22 years.  Donations from the show total more than $1.6 million. Proceeds from the 2017 event will again benefit the Boys and Girls Harbor, whose mission is to provide a home and safe environment for abandoned and abused children and healthy, comprehensive care for children and families in crisis.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

AM: Keels & Wheels is such a unique experience for the entire family. Classic cars are lined up on the lush grounds of Lakewood Yacht Club and boats are floating in the harbor for the ultimate blast to the past. Attendees do much more than admire cars and boats -- Keels & Wheels can be a very interactive experience. Kids get hands-on experience learning how to build a boat, while adults have the chance to win a car, test drive vehicles, explore local vendors and enjoy a beautiful spring day outside in a festival atmosphere.

For more information about Keels & Wheels, please visit the event website.