Cover Story: Hot Sundays

Reggae Fest Gets Bigger, Better and Wetter

Reggae Fest at The Beach is hard to describe. It's not just a sanctuary for all the Buffett-heads dreaming of Margaritaville. It's not just a venue for hard-core dance hall roots-based bands.

It's not just a place where the lights go down, the smoke goes up and the dreads come out. And it's certainly not just a place for the cruise-ship hipsters carrying their Sunday Times, drinking Bloody Marys and chatting about the best returns on their latest stock purchases.

Reggae Fest is an eight-week combination of all these things. More than that, it's a family event. And this summer is going to be the best in the festival's 14-year history, according to The Beach's director of marketing, Brooks Jordan.

"New energy, a new marketing strategy that we have to bring in people who wouldn't necessarily go and a new game plan are going to make Reggae Fest bigger and better than it's ever been," he says.

The reason for the renewed effort is that the event's popularity has dwindled in the past few years.

When it first started, it was the thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. But as with all new things, it started to get old: People didn't specifically go to see the bands play their hearts out. So the festival needed a boost.

And that's where Jordan comes in. Climbing on board the marketing team seven months ago, Jordan knew that the festival needed some serious rejuvenation.

"The whole idea was to make Reggae Fest a special event," he says. "Now we're looking at it being an event as opposed to just an added attraction in the park on a particular Sunday."

Now The Beach won't have to rely on just the 750,000-gallon Wave Pool to pack in the folks. Instead, Red Stripe and an expanded stage in the middle of massive sand pit will do the trick.

Even the facility's motto has changed to reflect the different direction Jordan hopes will get attention — no longer do you "Discover Paradise" at The Beach; now you're invited to "Wet Yourself."

WHO: Reggae Fest. · WHEN: 2-5 p.m. July 8 (The U.A.G. Band), July 15 (Gizzae), July 22 (Boom-Shaka), July 29 (Stagalag), Aug. 5 (The Ark Band), Aug. 12 (Carl Malcom), Aug. 19 (Dieghton Charlemagne and Identity), Aug. 26 (Flex Crew). · WHERE: The Beach Waterpark, Mason. · TICKETS: Park admission is $23.95 adults, $7.95 children. · INFO: 513-398-SWIM.

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