Music, dance, food, and games at town's first virtual Weed Beach Fest

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

A pair of flip flops, a sandcastle, a spiderweb, and something orange — how fast can these items be found?

Those were just some of the 25 items in the Weed Beach I Spy Scavenger Hunt on last week. The scavenger hunt was part of Darien’s first ever Virtual Weed Beach Fest.

The 50-minute event, which was taped in various locations around town, also included songs, dances, cooking, and social media games and contests that people can take part in — all while not leaving their homes.

To view Weed Beach Fest 2020, click here.

Six hundred views

The event was hosted by Darien’s Parks & Recreation Department, as part of the town’s 200th birthday celebration this year. It had over 600 views on social media, “which definitely exceeded our expectations, so we are thrilled,” said Jami Gore, program supervisor of Darien Parks & Recreation.

There has been a Weed Beach Fest every year since 2015. According to Gore, the purpose is to bring Darien families together for an afternoon of food, fun, music, history and community building.

The Weed Beach Fest Bicentennial Bash was to be held at Weed Beach again this year. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Weed Beach Fest Bicentennial Bash will be postponed to June 5, 2021.

“It was a great day,” Gore said. “I’m very excited with how things went and we received a lot of positive feedback. We knew 2020 would be a special year and it has definitely been that, but not in the way we had hoped. We knew we couldn’t provide the celebration that we wanted, but we’ll be able to do that in 2021.”

“We are saying ‘2020, one more time,’” she added.

Music and dance

Local groups who performed in the virtual event include Exit Ramp Band and Gunsmoke.

Kenny with the Kenny Weiss Project performed “Let the Music Play” by Shannon.

Darien native Doug Allen, a singer and songwriter, performed “Celebrate,” a song he co-wrote.

Darien High School Tudor singers performed Pomp and Circumstance.

There was dancing from students at the Darien Arts Center to “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows.

Favorite memories

A handful of longtime Darien residents were interviewed and asked their favorite memories of Weed Beach.

Ward Glassmeyer, chairman of The Darien Foundation, recalled the days of his youth and hanging out all night at the beach with his friends.

Corbin District Project developer David Genovese said he remembers playing tennis at Weed Beach, and spending time there before every football game.

Susan Daly, Darien Park and Recreation Commission member, said she remembers looking for treasure at Weed Beach with her children when she first moved to town.

Food and photographs

Cooking and baking demonstrations designed for both children and adults made up a big part of the fest.

Lisa Nelms, owner of Sprout Chefs cooking class for kids, invited all the kids in Darien to create their own birthday cake for the town, and take a photo of it to post on social media.

A young girl gave a step-by-step demonstration of how to bake a simple cake. Bakers were encouraged to send photos of their finished cakes and Parks & Rec will use them in next year’s Weed Beach promotion.

Rory’s Restaurant chef showed how to make a tuna tartare with a ginger soy marinade.

Photographs of the town of Darien, both at the present time and in the past, were also shown.

Games and activities

Several family-oriented games and activities were a part of the fest, including the “Picture It” game, where participants were asked to create an artwork of Weed Beach, in an medium they prefer.

“What you think of when you think of Weed Beach?” Gore asked.

Aside from the scavenger hunt, other activities included a competition to collect 200 of any item and post it on the Park & Recreation social media sites.

“This project was truly only possible due to our close-knit community,” Gore said. “In a couple weeks and after a bunch of phone calls, we had a lot of content. In this crazy world, so many people just stopped what they were doing to pitch in. Darien is a very special town.”

Watch Weed Beach Fest 2020 on Darien TV/79.