Annual BeachFest set for April 26 & 27

Want to go to the beach but don’t have the time to drive four hours to the coast? Look no further than Matthews.

The town’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resource Department is “bringing the beach” to south Mecklenburg through the fifth annual BeachFest Matthews event. The festival takes place Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27, in and around Stumptown Park, 120 S. Trade St. Friday’s events run from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday’s festivities are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

BeachFest, sponsored by Novant Health, will feature activities one would find during a trip to the beach – sand volleyball, carnival rides, sand sculptures, boardwalk-style food, live beach music and more. Friday offers a $10 all-you-can-ride armband.

“(BeachFest) came to be a way to bring the beach to Matthews and it’s seen as a way, too, to usher in spring around here,” said Lee Anne Moore, Matthews special events manager. “We see how many elements of the beach and going to the beach we can bring.”

The event kicks off April 26 at 6 p.m. with live music, courtesy of The Fantastic Shakers, followed by an 8 p.m. concert from Ken Knox and The Company. There also will be carnival rides, art vendors and inflatable bounce houses for kids.

On April 27, the town will host the annual Sandy Feet 5K and Fun Run to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Matthews. The 5K starts at 8 a.m., followed by the fun run at 8:15 a.m. BeachFest resumes at 10 a.m. with the beach volleyball tournament and D.J. Darryl Elkins, who’ll be spinning the beach tunes.

Festivities continue throughout the day with a corn hole tournament set for 3 p.m. and concerts from Band of Gold, The Extraordinaires and The Tams.

“The festival centers around really good beach music, how many good beach bands we can get in here each year,” Moore said.

BeachFest also means shagging. The sand box in front of the stage in Stumptown Park will transform into a dance floor and citizens will get a chance to show off their moves, Moore said.

“I’ve wanted to bring dance to the festival in the past couple of years,” she said. “We want to bring folks to do demos around the stage and really involve dance in the festival. There are so many people from here that remember the shag but there’s also so many not from this area and don’t know how (to shag).”

New for 2013 are classic cruisers that will be on display for all to enjoy. One of the classic images of a beach trip, Moore said, is “cruising the strip,” so it only seemed natural for the festival to incorporate these cruisers.

“It gives folks something else to walk through and see,” she said. “I would love to see that grow into a cruise-in that goes along with BeachFest.”

For more information on BeachFest, or to sign up for the Sandy Feet 5K and Fun Run, the sand volleyball or corn hole tournaments, go to www.beachfestmatthews.com.

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