Originally founded by Carol Duvall-Taylor and her late husband Perry, the event is “an introduction to an asset of this county,” said Bob Cameron, who frequented the island on and off since the ’60s and is now a happily retired resident. The annual event not only draws attention to Bethel Island; it boosts revenue and recognition for the island’s various restaurants and organizations.
“I would say that the intention of the ’50s Bash today is the same as when it was first started – it supports the businesses on the island,” said Cameron, a chamber board member and regular ’50s Bash volunteer. “It’s a big weekend for them.”
The event, held the weekend of Aug. 11 and 12, typically draws between 7,000 and 10,000 visitors.
“It’s also a family-oriented event,” said Cha Cha Doolittle, chamber office manager and board secretary, who has been involved with the chamber on a volunteer basis since last October. Doolittle expects the Bash to draw visitors all day on both days to the unique, close-knit community she chose to call home three years ago.
“There’s a little something for everybody of all ages, and it’s a nice affair,” she said. “This event is a party for the island by the island.”
For example, at the Rusty Porthole restaurant, which overlooks the Delta, the Rubber Duck Races will commence at 2 p.m. Hundreds of little rubber duckies, sponsored for $5 each, will be dumped into the water, and onlookers can watch who wins by a beak. Costumed canines and their owners are welcome to participate in the Dog Show. And golf carts decked out in tropical attire are sure to draw a chuckle as they parade down Bethel Island’s main street on Sunday.
The fish derby contest (aka Catfish Races), sponsored by the Lions Club, are another big draw. Over the weekend, 32 catfish, each individually purchased and uniquely named, will compete against one another for the top title. Another upside to this delightfully quirky competition is that since the catfish are domesticated and can’t be put back in the wild, they’re donated to the underprivileged after the races.
Doolittle, who as last year’s top ticket-seller won the title of Queen, will crown a new royal ticket master on Sunday at noon.
A variety of specialty vendors, including food booths, will set up shop on the grassy grounds of the Bethel Island Community Park. And new this year, the park will feature a game and play area – including a bounce house – for the kids.
Classic car enthusiasts and motorcycle buffs won’t want to miss Saturday’s car show and Sunday’s bike show. Rows of custom vehicles will heat up the streets, and trophies will be awarded at 4 p.m. both days. Registration is still open to interested parties; entry forms can be found online at www.bethelisland-chamber.com.
“For the most part, we’re all about recreation here on Bethel Island because we’re a waterfront community, so most people come out here looking for a day off and a good time,” said Ralph Wallace, owner of Boyd Real Estate Inc. and self proclaimed old-timer who has called Bethel Island home for 35 years. “The ’50s Bash is fun, fun, fun and free, free, free.”
To participate, become a volunteer or for more information, call Doolittle at 925-684-3220 or visit www.bethelisland-chamber.com.