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Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show Remains as Unique as Its History

By Josh Lantz   The Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show has been synonymous with Indianapolis’ Renfro family for the past 49 years, but the event’s unique history goes back even further. An Indianapolis businessman named Melvin Ross began the Boat, Sport and Travel Show in 1953, and operated the event at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for 10 years prior to one of the state of Indiana’s worst recorded tragedies.  On October 1 of 1963, a leaking propane tank used to heat the popcorn machines in the then-called Indiana Coliseum exploded during an evening performance of one of Mr. Ross’s popular Ice Capades shows.  The explosion killed 74 and injured 400 more.  It was a dark day in Indiana history, and an otherwise successful man, Mr. Ross, was devastated. Enter Harry Renfro. Renfro had been selling booth space for Mr. Ross when the tragedy at the Coliseum occurred.  When…

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