Ventura returns to a simpler age Sunday when it plays host to a city-sponsored beach festival complete with a Frankie Avalon-Annette Funicello look-alike contest, surfer bands, an Elvis Presley impersonator and a Hula Hoop competition.
Organizers are billing California Beach Party '88, which is expected to attract 15,000 people to Ventura's Promenade between the Ventura Pier and the county fairgrounds, as a nostalgic look at the early days of surfing. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free. Festivities include a 10K race, a kite contest and a windsurfing competition.
"This is a party Gidget would love," said Faye Campbell, director of downtown special events for the city of Ventura.
Elvis impersonator Sean Duffy begins the flashback with appearances from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on a stage in the parking lot near the pier.
A fashion show of vintage swimsuits, including a "teeny weeny polka-dot bikini," begins at 11 a.m. on a stage at the tip of Figueroa Street.
A 1950s-style dance competition is set for 12:30 p.m., with a special competition at 3:30 p.m. for dancers more than 40 years old.
A search to find Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello look-alikes gets under way at 1:30 p.m. on a stage that will be erected at the California Street Mall adjacent to the Promenade.
Beginning at 10 a.m., the party brings together a nonstop concert by bands featuring surfing and early rock 'n' roll favorites. Groups scheduled to perform include the Houseshakers, the Volcanos, the Convertibles, the McNallys, and the Reverbs and Mario.
Classic convertibles from the '50s and '60s will be on display all day near Surfers Point at the west end of the boardwalk. Other ongoing events include contests for enthusiasts of '50s trivia, the Hula Hoop and limbo dancing.
"The college-aged particularly enjoy this event," Campbell said. "But it also appeals to the older group who rocked around the clock in the '50s."
Registration begins at 7 a.m. for 10K and 5K beachfront runs and a 1-mile walk that is expected to draw 600 participants. Entrance fees are $10 for the runs and $7 for the walk.
A sailboard race--a new addition to the festival, which is in its third year--begins at 1 p.m. off Surfers Point. The entrance fee is $25.
A contest with a $50 prize for the largest and most original kite is expected to attract 200 participants to the strand east of the pier beginning at 2 p.m.
Free parking is available at the county fairgrounds on Figueroa Street, and for $3 in the parking structure at the end of California Street.