South Bethany to hold fourth annual ‘beauty contest’

Driving through South Bethany, motorists often notice the beautifully landscaped canal and road ends. The continued beautification of the areas has been carried out through the work of the town’s Community Enhancement Committee (CEC) and countless resident volunteers, with the creation of the Adopt-A-Canal/Road End Program.

“The Community Enhancement Committee decided it would be a fun way to acknowledge those who had adopted a canal end. We knew we wanted to grow it and thought this would be a great way publicize it,” said Councilwoman Sue Callaway, who chairs the CEC.

This year, the Town will hold its fourth annual Adopt Beauty Contest, in which its citizens may vote for the most beautifully manicured and maintained canal or road end.

“They vote for their top five,” explained Callaway.

Those who wish to vote may visit the Town’s website, at, which provides photographs of each road and canal end, with voting options. Callaway said people may also vote by submitting their votes to Town Hall officials.

“They can do it online, looking at the photographs. This year, we’re encouraging people to either walk to take a bike ride to all 26. They can print out a paper copy, do it that way, and then drop it off to Town Hall.”

The adoptive caretakers of the top three canal or road ends selected will receive a gift certificate to Lord’s Landscaping.

“This year, Mike Lord increased the amount to $200,” she said, noting that the increase in prize amount allowed for a third-place winner to be selected for the first time.

Not only does the adopt program promote the beautification of the canal and road ends, but it also serves an important role in improving the Town’s water quality, she noted.

“For one thing, they didn’t all look good,” said Callaway of the canal and road ends before the project began. “It was an expense the Town hadn’t set money aside for prior to the CEC getting involved in it.

“Also, we knew, in terms of water quality, it would help with some of the water retention. That’s one of our goals with any landscaping we do — hopefully, it’ll also serve as a rain garden area that can hold the water for a little bit longer and be a bit more healthy when it enters the canal. That was our mission at the very beginning.”

Callaway said the program has grown considerably in its short existence, and she hopes it will continue to be embraced by the community.

“We’ve gone from six to 26,” said Callaway of the number of adopted canal and road ends. “Every one along Canal Drive is done now. It’s a whole street of well-landscaped canal ends, and it really makes a difference.”

Those who are interested in adopting a canal or road end can meet with Callaway or another member of the CEC at their chosen canal end to discuss potential improvements.

“We encourage the adopter to talk to their neighbors and anyone else who lives near the canal end. Then, if they’re still interested, they come up with a design plan and that’s submitted to the CEC. The adopt subcommittee reviews the design,” she explained.

“Once it’s approved, we send out letters to the property owners who are directly adjacent to the canal end, to inform them of what the plan is and to see if they’re interested in getting involved, as well.”

Callaway said the adopter may then go about landscaping their adopted end.

“They make a commitment for a year. Then, at the end of the first year, we ask them to make a commitment for two years,” she explained, adding that only two sets of adopters, for three canal ends, have ever fulfilled their commitment for one year without then renewing that commitment for two more years.

Callaway said there’s a group of citizens called the Wandering Weeders who walk around the town and maintain those canal ends.

Currently, the town has approximately 20 canal and road ends left to be adopted.

“Last year, we prioritized all the canal ends: Those that we wanted adopted, those that were second choice, and then those that look pretty natural and are fairly tidy — those are our last priority.”

Callaway said she is thankful for the support of the Town’s maintenance department and all those involved in helping make South Bethany a little more beautiful.

“It really is contagious. People really do, when they see someone fixing something up — whether it’s a canal end or their home — it does encourage other people to do the same,” she said. “I’m just real appreciative of everyone who gets involved.”

For those who are interested in voting, the contest will open on Friday, Aug. 22, and will conclude on Monday, Sept. 1. Those who may be interested in adopting a canal/road end can contact Town Hall, at (302) 539-3653.