By Maddy Vitale
Get ready for the largest festival of the summer season in Sea Isle City with the Skimmer Festival coming this weekend.
The festivities will feature an array of vendors, crafts, foods and even an antique car show. The event runs over Father’s Day Weekend. The fun begins on Saturday, June 15, with a Seaside Vendors Market along Sea Isle’s oceanfront Promenade from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Skimmer Food Court will be open in front of Excursion Park at JFK Boulevard and Pleasure Avenue, and vintage cars and trucks will be on display on the Promenade on Sunday, June 16.
“For many folks, Skimmer Weekend is when summer truly begins in Sea Isle City. It’s our largest festival of the season, and people really look forward to it,” said Sea Isle Public Information Officer Katherine Custer.
Tens of thousands of visitors and residents are expected to take advantage of what has traditionally been a major attraction and huge start to the summer season.
Custer touted the many attractions to be explored and enjoyed at the festival.
“The city’s tourism office has hundreds of crafts and specialty vendors lined up for Saturday. In addition to a fabulous food court, free amusement rides and other family friendly entertainment will be at Excursion Park,” she pointed out.
On Sunday there is also a host of family-friendly activities.
“The guided historical trolley tours attract many people and our annual antique auto show is a Father’s Day delight that appeals to dads and everyone else who appreciates classic vehicles.”
She explained why it is such a special event.
“It’s a huge event that offers something for everyone. It’s held at the start of the summer season, so people are happy to be out and about, greeting neighbors and friends,” she said. “Plus, it is in line with the end of the school year, so families can relax and have fun.”
It is just one more fun reason to be in Sea Isle. The busiest weeks tend to be from the end of June through August, so this event is on the cusp of the peak of the summer season, Custer noted.
The festival derives its name from the straw hats that Victorian gentlemen often wore during the summer months.
The festival traces its roots to the early 1960s. After a monstrous storm in 1962 devastated the Jersey Shore, the townsfolk in Sea Isle hoped to persuade tourists a year later that the beach community was in recovery mode and ready to begin welcoming visitors again.
They needed a big event to attract the crowds, so they created the Skimmer Festival in 1963, an old-fashioned celebration whose name was inspired by the Victorian-era straw hats worn by boaters during more genteel times.
Some activities include an “Art Bar,” face painting and a photo booth.
There will also be a “Sand Art” station, where children can create souvenirs for a small fee. The entertainment will include live music by “Radio Neon” at the Excursion Park Band Shell from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The car show scheduled for Sunday will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Also, on Sunday, the Snake Brothers Band will perform on the Promenade at JFK Boulevard from 10 a.m. to noon.
The free Guided Historical Trolley Tours every half hour in front of Excursion Park from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Trolley tours will be led by members of the Sea Isle City Historical Society, who will point out landmarks and explain how Sea Isle has grown over the years.
At 1 p.m. on Sunday, trophies will be presented to the winners of the Antique Auto Show. Afterwards, each of the vehicles entered in the auto show will parade through town, bringing this year’s Skimmer Festival Weekend to a spectacular close, Custer said.
For more details about Skimmer Festival Weekend and other events taking place in Sea Isle City, call (609) 263-8687 or go to www.visitsicnj.com.