Boat-loan interest rates ranging from 3 to 5 percent, together with gasoline prices hovering around $2 a gallon, are expected to spur sales when the Minneapolis Boat Show opens Thursday for its 43rd running.

Dealers reported good to excellent sales at the recently concluded Minnesota Sportsmen's Boat, Camping and Vacation Show at RiverCentre in St. Paul.

In addition to cheap gas and favorable loan rates, pent-up demand for new boats is also driving the marketplace, dealers say, after sales plummeted during the recent recession.

New power boat, outboard, trailer and accessory sales rose to $575 million in 2013 in Minnesota, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, a 4 percent bump from 2012.

Minnesota registers more boats per capita than any other state, and is third overall with 808,744, despite having a much smaller population than states such as Michigan, Florida, Texas and California, where boating is also popular.

Minnesota supports nearly 8,000 jobs in the marine industry.

Featured at the Boat Show will be hundreds of watercraft, from canoes to houseboats and yachts, as well as the latest outboards and marine accessories.

Show hours are:

• Thursday, 2-9 p.m.

• Friday, noon-9 p.m.

• Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

• Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission is $12 for adults and those age 16 and up. Kids 15 and younger are admitted free. Senior day is Thursday, Jan. 22, when attendees age 62 and older are admitted for $9.

Active military get in free with ID.

First-time wild turkey hunters can get help

Want to hunt wild turkeys but don't know how to get started?

First-time turkey hunters looking to get afield this spring have until Feb. 23 to apply to hunt under the guidance of experienced National Wild Turkey Federation volunteers. Applications are available at

This year, the novice hunts on Saturday and Sunday are designed for both youth and adults. Youth ages 12-17 will hunt April 18-19, adults May 16-17.

Dennis Anderson