With a new timeframe and new events, the Town of Bethany Beach is bringing a fresh perspective to its annual Poseidon Festival.
This year’s festival will be held over the Memorial Day weekend, starting Friday, May 25, with a concert on the bandstand, according to Bethany Beach Entertainment Director Julie Malewski.
At 6 p.m. on Friday, the Bullbuckers will take the stage with their ska/reggae tunes. The Bullbuckers are new to the Poseidon Festival but have played the bandstand in the past, Malewski said.
After the concert, the entertainment moves to the big screen on the sand, where “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” kicks off Bethany Beach’s Movies at the Beach for the summer, starting at dusk. The movie is rated PG-13.
On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Bethany Beach Nature Center on Route 26, everyone is invited to participate in mermaid-related activities, including a book signing by Nancy Sakaduski, author of “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay.” Youngsters are being encouraged to dress as their favorite sea creature to win a prize, and there will be a mermaid-inspired scavenger hunt, Malewski said.
From 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. that night, the Poseidon Festival mixes education with entertainment with the Emergency Meet & Greet at the “top” of Garfield Parkway, behind the bandstand. Local emergency-response experts will be on hand to help residents and visitors alike be prepared for a coastal emergency.
Bethany Beach’s Mobile Command Center will be open for tours, as will a water-rescue vehicle. In addition, lifeguards, police officers and firefighters will be discussing ocean safety and distributing helpful information.
Malewski said that part of the Poseidon event was a result of her own need to know more about how to prepare for coastal emergencies, such as hurricanes and nor’easters.
“When I came here,” first as a summer visitor and then as a town employee, she said, “the different storms made me wonder — where would you take your pet, where would you go in an emergency, would there be supplies in the [vacation] house or should you keep things in your car?”
The Meet & Greet seeks to answer all those questions and more. Lifeguards will be providing valuable information on rip currents — one of the most dangerous aspects of swimming in the ocean.
Also on Saturday evening, not one but two concerts will keep rocking in the summer season.
First, at 6 p.m., the steel drum band Trinidad North brings its Caribbean sound to Bethany Beach. Trinidad North is new to the bandstand and to the Poseidon Festival; the band has traveled worldwide since 1989.
Then, at 7:30 p.m., Parrot Beach will bring its Jimmy Buffett-inspired sound to the stage. Key West/Buffett-inspired attire is encouraged, so those heading out to the boardwalk can dig out those flip-flops (but please don’t step on a pop-top) and enjoy some summer-steeped music.
On Sunday, May 27, the Poseidon Festival gets a little crabby, with its first ever “Hermit Crab Derby.” A Florida-based organization, the National Crab Racing Association, will supply the crabs for anyone who wants to give it a try.
Starting at 1 p.m., there will be five preliminary “heats,” leading up to a final “championship where three winners will receive certificates and ‘bragging rights,’” Malewski said.
At 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, the U.S. Navy Cruisers Band returns to Bethany Beach once again, bringing to the bandstand its huge repertoire, spanning every genre from jazz to classic rock to pop.
On Monday, the true meaning for the holiday weekend will be observed with a Memorial Day ceremony on the bandstand at 11 a.m. Sponsored by Mason-Dixon Post 7234 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the ceremony will feature remarks by longtime Sussex County Council Member George Cole of Ocean View.
The weekend of island-inspired fun wraps up with a concert by the steel-drum duo Island Fusion from 2 to 4 p.m. The duo, a husband-and-wife team who have been performing together since 1978, might just get the audience involved in an impromptu limbo contest or conga line, as Bethany Beach kicks off its summer season to a steel-drum beat.
Malewski said she feels like the “third time’s the charm” for the Poseidon Festival, with activities now spanning the entire four-day Memorial Day weekend. Building on the most successful aspects of the first two festivals and tweaking the dates, she said, seems like a winning recipe.
“We just invite everyone to come out and get feeling good, and get the summer started,” she said.
By Kerin Magill