Since Chris Nelson brought the the Preppy Pirate Outfitters Anniversary Outdoor Beach Music Festival to Eden and Rockingham County three years ago, the festival has grown tremendously.
“We went from having 700 to 800 participants the first year to more than 1,000 last year, and we’re hoping for more this year,” said Nelson, the owner of Preppy Pirate Outfitters.
This year’s beach music festival will be August 23 and 24 at the Wright Memorial Event Center in Eden. Doors open at 5 p.m. August 23 with The Embers with Craig Woolard and Legacy Motown Revue performing. On Saturday, the doors open at 11 a.m., and bands performing include Jim Quick and Coastline, The Catalinas, Chairmen of the Board and The Pizazz Band. Festival-goers should bring their own lawn chairs, and small pop-up canopies are allowed in certain locations. RV camping spots are also available on site, and there will be an ABC garden and food vendors. In addition, there will be a vendor market with items for sale. Tickets in advance are $20 per day or $35 for the weekend. Tickets are $5 more at the gate the day of the event. A $50 VIP package includes an event T-shirt and a meet and greet with select performers.
“Beach music was born and bred in the Carolinas,” Nelson said. “It’s good music that’s easy to listen to.”
A beach area with sand will be available in front of the stage for shagging/dancing. Reenactment pirates with a pirate ship will be on hand for the children, as well as inflatables.
“Children can climb on the ship and play,” Nelson said.
Several of the bands performing have tremendous followings, hence Nelson’s decision to add camping this year.
Nelson started Preppy Pirate Outfitters, the official clothing brand of beach music, in 2016.
“We make beach music apparel for all these bands,” he said. “It started with The Embers and grew from there.”
Preppy Pirate Outfitters is the only official company licensed to make “Carolina Girls, Best in the World” clothing.
Nelson, an Eden native, grew up around beach music and has always loved it.
“When I started this clothing line, we needed a niche to make it successful, and that niche was beach music,” he said.
For the last three years, Nelson has relied on online sales and the sale of his apparel in various stores, but he recently opened a Preppy Pirate Outfitters brick and mortar store on Washington Street in Eden. He celebrated the grand opening earlier this month with a concert by Javier Colon, national recording artist and winner of The Voice TV show.
“It only makes sense to do an anniversary weekend in my hometown,” Nelson said of his decision to hold a beach music festival each summer in Eden.
Nelson loves the beach music genre and his hometown and wants to see both grow.
“There are good people here, and Rockingham County still has that Mayberry feel,” he said. “I hope people walk away (from the beach music festival) with great memories wanting more.”