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Autumn is festival season, especially this Saturday and Sunday in festive Holden Beach.
The North Carolina Festival By the Sea will once again light up the last full weekend in October in the seaside town, which is celebrating the season with an array of activities. Admission and parking are free.
The annual event kicks off with the Festival By the Sea Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday down the Holden Beach Causeway, from the stoplight at Walgreens to the base of the Holden Beach Bridge. Event organizers with the Greater Holden Beach Merchants Association tout parade day as the only time of the year festival-goers can take a stroll up the Holden Beach Bridge for a high-altitude view of the parade. The causeway and bridge will be closed from 9:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Saturday to accommodate parade festivities.
This year’s parade marshal is Simitrio Ruiz of the Discovery Channel’s hit reality TV show, “Swamp Loggers.” An autograph-and-photo session with Ruiz is scheduled after the parade.
Parade highlights this year include ROTCs from different schools, the Sudan Tomcats in miniature cars, the Patriot Guard Riders, fire trucks, Kayla the pink fire truck and little princesses and queens, event spokeswoman Stephanie Steinbach.
Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday under the Holden Beach bridge with more than 130 arts and crafts and food vendors as well as a kids’ area under the high-rise bridge on the island. Home Depot will be there with a kids’ workshop, and there will be children’s games and a bouncy house.
Food vendors include barbecue, Greek Boys, a hot dog cart, Robinson’s Seafood, funnel cakes and ice cream.
There will also be a horseshoe tournament at 11 a.m. Saturday at Paradise Café at 102 Jordan Blvd. Registration starts at 10 a.m. For details, call Chris Politis at 842-4999.
Saturday’s onstage entertainment lineup includes country musician CC Martin from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and beach music by The Carolina Breakers from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
Judging for the festival’s annual sand-sculpting competition is at 4 p.m. Saturday. Contestants can begin building their creations prior to that. Steinbach said the event hinges on the outgoing high tide, which is around 1 p.m. Saturday.
The festival will be broadcast live Saturday via WWQQ 101.3, which will also have a spinning wheel for gifts.
The annual festival street dance featuring The Fantastic Shakers is 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Beach Mart and Boone Docks on the island causeway.
Sunday’s festival schedule kicks off at 8 a.m. with a worship service by the Rev. Eddie Hill and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Quartet and Color Guard.
A car and motorcycle show follows at 9:30 a.m., and a children’s Halloween costume contest is at 3 p.m.
Sunday’s entertainment schedule includes Pantastic Steel Band from 9:30 to noon and Jaded Mayberry (Southern rock) from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
There will also be raffles for a Lockwood Folly golf package for four (including cart); a surfboard donated by Walgreens and two concealed weapons classes for locals only from Dillworth Enterprises.
As always, festival T-shirts will be available for sale, as well as earth bags this year.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.