CHATHAM – The legendary Ms. Eelgrass contest will return next Saturday, Sept. 7, as part of the Chatham End of Summer Bash sponsored by the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and Chatham Merchants Association.
The Bash, which will run from 2 to 6 p.m., will be a “fun, family friendly event” celebrating the end of the season, said Chamber Executive Director Mary Cavanaugh. It will be held at “George Ryder Beach,” AKA the Chatham VFW on George Ryder Road.
Featured will be food by the Chatham Squire and Red Nun, music by the Jody Moore Band, raffles, games, face painting and kids’ portraits drawn by artist Sarah Holl. There will be a tent and buses to shuttle attendees to and from the nearby Job Lot parking lot.
The original plan was to hold the event at the beach, but permitting proved to be too much of a challenge for busy merchants. Thus the rebranding of the VFW as George Ryder Beach for the day.
“We just thought we'd put a little creative twist on things,” Cavanaugh said.
In past years the chamber has held an annual golf tournament in the fall, but that “seems like it's run its course,” Cavanaugh said. The group decided decided that a new “signature” event that would be a “fun, family friendly community event would be great,” she said.
Committee member Darci Sequin suggested bringing back the Ms. Eelgrass contest. And while Paul Lucas, the original Captain Eelgrass, passed away in 2017, his grandson, Matt, a fisherman like his grandfather, will assume the mantle (orange waders, actually) as the new Captain Eelgrass.
The Eelgrass contest's origins reach back to the late 1980s. Lucas was often teased about the eelgrass growing from the bottom of his fishing boat, and he gradually became known as “Captain Eelgrass.” The contest took the form of a fundraiser for Monomoy Community Services; local women took on often outrageous ocean-influenced identities to vie to become the captain's mate. The Ms. Eelgrass contest was last held in 2014 at the VFW, where it was held for most of its 10-year run.
Contestants are being sought for the good-natured competition. There is a $25 entry fee, and the winner will receive a custom-monogrammed chair from the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company. And, of course, bragging rights as the chosen one of the new Captain Eelgrass.
Along with the Ms. Eelgrass contest entry fee, the event will also raise money through admission ticket sales, a 50-50 raffle—which will include donated items along with the half the money from raffle ticket sales—as well as food sales.
“All the food items are donated, so that's where we hope to make some money,” said Cavanaugh.
Proceeds from the event will be earmarked for the Chatham Children's Fund Backpack Project, as well as ongoing chamber initiatives.
Admission to the Bash is $10 in advance, $15 on the day of the event; children 2 to 12 are $5, and kids under 2 are free. Tickets are available at the chamber's Bassett House headquarters in South Chatham and at the Rockland Trust and Cape Cod Five Chatham branches, Puritan of Cape Cod and Forest Beach Designer-Goldsmiths. For more information and updates, visit facebook.com/eelgrass.