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31st Street Harbor show should have all the proper color

Workers finish up around some garish recycled trees 31st Street Harbor which will host first Chicago In-Water BoShow June 7-10.

Workers finish up around some of the garish recycled trees at 31st Street Harbor, which will host the first Chicago In-Water Boat Show on June 7-10. | Dale Bowman~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 3, 2012 12:50PM

The artist renderings of garish-colored tree trunks on the 31st Street Harbor shoreline are so jarring, it’s hard for me to get past them to fully appreciate the wonder of Chicago’s newest harbor, which opened this month.

Despite the trees, 31st Street will be ideal for the Chicago In-Water Boat Show on June 7-10. The showcase in-water boat show, first in Chicago and billed as the greatest on the Great Lakes, will be in a showcase setting.

Other than the trees, which I think are an artist once again treating Chicago as if it’s an artistic backwater filled with Philistines. Gave us the old artistic finger, if you will.

It would be one thing if 31st Street were some futurist harbor concept. It’s not. It’s designed to understatedly fit the contours of the South Side shoreline. And to work smoothly as a harbor.

Aesthetically, it is beautiful, other than the misfit trees, both from shore and overhead views.

On the functional side, it is the best harbor for boaters in the city. It already was put to use handling most of the boats when Burnham Harbor was cleared for the NATO summit.

For fishermen, the harbor should be a showcase, too. In a couple of weeks, I will write about that after a couple of tweaks are completed.

For most of the public, the Chicago In-Water Boat Show will be the chance to experience boats in-water and the fullness of 31st Street Harbor. Children 15 and younger get in free.

The first thing show manager Keith Ogulnick mentioned earlier this month was that the harbor was ‘‘state of the art.’’ The second was how the show would impact ‘‘the senses.’’

‘‘We always make a big deal out of creating an overall experience, getting people excited about the outdoors,’’ Ogulnick said.

He’s right on many levels, including visually and by touch. This is a unique chance for boaters to experience a show in ways they never could before. Many on-water seminars are planned, as well as land activities. That’s an advantage of the harbor’s uniqueness. Show staff are advising early registration to ensure being able to join many seminars.

Because of the harbor design, there will be ‘‘Try It Cove’’ to try to learn paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing and Flyboard, the latest jet-propulsion technology/nautical. Flyboard is one of those things that make you shake your head and want to try at the same time.

Ogulnick expects about 100 boats on water and another dozen on land, including some cigarette boats. Because it’s an on-water show, it’s easier to get some of the bigger, fancier boats there. There will be show boats: go-big, go-fast and go-beautiful.

The three most notable are the 65-foot SkipperLiner Commander 650 luxury houseboat; the 2012 Prestige 60 Flybridge, a French luxury yacht brought by Springbrook Marina; and the 2012 Grand Entertainer Premier Pontoon, a luxury pontoon brought by Bald Knob Marina.

‘‘We think it will be different than anything anybody has seen on the lakefront,’’ Ogulnick said.

For show info and to register for seminars, go to

IDNR update

A rash of retirements complicates the tight situation at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. One of the most notable is by state waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla this week. Meanwhile, Rep. Frank Mautino’s IDNR sustainable funding bill was changed to SB1566 on Friday and is expected to make rapid process through the General Assembly this week.

Stray cast

Adam Dunn is like a green king seeing the net coming down at the back of the boat; Anthony Rizzo is like my chance at a 61/2-pound smallmouth bass.

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