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Photo: Antique Boat Museum
Photo: Antique Boat Museum

A taste of country music fame at Clayton's Antique Boat Museum

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Every year, the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton is closed all through the winter. This Friday, the museum brings spring to the Thousand Islands with a new schedule.

And visitors this year will get a little taste of country music fame, from a southern star with a strong connection to the North Country.

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Reported by

Zach Hirsch
Reporter and Producer

A peek inside <em>Flat Top</em>. Photo: Antique Boat Museum
A peek inside Flat Top. Photo: Antique Boat Museum
Alan Jackson hails from Newnan, Georgia, and he sings about growing up in the south. But these days, Jackson's boat, called Flat Top, is parked on a patch of grass at the museum. He's donated the boat to the museum.

"It is a very goofy thing," says the museum's marketing director Mike Folsom. "I mean, here's Alan Jackson, a country music star, known for his great music and based out of Nashville, Tennessee. And we have his boat in small-town Clayton, New York, now."

A display at the 1900s showroom floor exhibit. Photo: Zach Hirsch
A display at the 1900s showroom floor exhibit. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Jackson came to the museum's annual boat show in 2009. Back then, he gave the museum some of his boats to auction off. A few years later, he donated Flat Top, which is "a Chris-Craft, semi-enclosed, custom cruiser," says Smith. In lay speak, Flat Top is a 29-foot motorboat from 1955. It's made of mahogany, with white oak decking and framing. It's a spiffed-up utility boat.

"Collectors care a lot about their boats. Especially when they spend a lot of money restoring them, and when they get personally invested in them. They like to know that they're being cared for and appreciated by other people," Smith says.

He says it's a win-win-win. Jackson can rest easy, now that his boat is in good hands. Alan Jackson fans of the North Country get to see a piece of the celebrity's life. And the museum, Smith says, gets a little extra foot traffic.

Getting ready for Friday. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Getting ready for Friday. Photo: Zach Hirsch
"It gives us a new connection point to a lot of the public," he says. He can now tell the public, "'You may not have thought much about classic boating but, hey, look. There's this really great guy who you think is really cool--Alan Jackson--who's a great country musician, and he loved this boat. So why don't you come take a look at this boat, and maybe come take a look at some of the other boats we have?'"

Mike Folsom says he hopes Flat Top will bring him bigger crowds this summer. Folsom says he's not a huge country music fan himself, but he's thrilled the museum gets to brag about its little slice of fame. "My idea is I want to get a big cutout of Alan Jackson, life-size, and set it on the dock next to it, and pretend he's here every day!"

You can visit Flat Top when the Antique Boat Museum reopens this Friday.

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