July 2018

Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina celebrates 30 Years of HarbourFest

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Snap, crackle, pop! Boom, sizzle, pow! It’s not a cereal, a superhero, or a summer thunderstorm; it’s the sound of fireworks dancing in the night sky over Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina. Bombs are bursting in air as the popular Mediterranean-style waterfront venue celebrates 30 years of HarbourFest—a family-friendly festival featuring music, entertainment, food and fireworks every Tuesday evening throughout the summer season. Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeastern Tourism Society and a Best of Southern Fests by South magazine, HarbourFest is a favorite among islanders and visitors, putting smiles on faces, joy in hearts, and memories in the bank all summer long.

“The heart and soul is different here in the summer. When the activities kick off and we start doing this event, it clearly signifies that the island is ‘waking up’ for the season,” said Karen Kozemchak, director of marketing at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, and chief-in-charge of all SCH events. “The people here tonight are from all over the country. They are excited to be here—it’s part of their tradition. It’s a family sort of thing, and when you see generations of people returning, it’s even more cool.”

Let’s go!
On Tuesday, June 12, under a canopy of gray with the threat of thunderstorms looming, the weather gods have a change of heart and smile down on the harbor, blessing the first show of the 2018 season with an inviting breeze, puffy cloud cover and nary a drop of rain. Intermittent glimpses of sunlight tease guests, inviting them to come again for dramatic sunsets and clear, starry skies; nevertheless, it’s a perfect evening for strolling about, ducking in and out of the charming waterfront boutiques, dining alfresco, people-watching, and taking in the stunning marina view—all while participating in a variety of activities for the whole family. Eats and treats are abundant, with eight waterfront dining options—inside and out—many offering live music. In addition, multiple sidewalk kiosks are serving refreshments from warm pretzels to sno-cones (and adult beverages for the grown-ups, of course).

At Neptune Circle, where the famous King Neptune statue/sundial reigns, children and adults alike are moving to the groove with Steel Drum performer, Melvin Dean, of Steel the Show. Surrounding activities include wax hands, a “spin to win” game and much more. Vendors include Blue Turtle, selling natural coconut products for the skin; Tropical Slimes, offering decorative handmade slime for play and/or stress relief (try it, you’ll like it!); Gullah Celebrations, promoting the history and local culture of the native Gullah people; and Island Whoopie, enticing festival-goers with homemade cream-filled cakes.

A short stroll down the sidewalk leads to the newly renovated performance stage and pavilion, where entertainer extraordinaire Shannon Tanner is cranking out his usual crowd favorites along with a few new ditties he’s conjured up to refresh his annual show. (You haven’t lived until you’ve heard his rapper rendition or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or his clever mashup of three popular nursery rhyme songs sung in round with “Stairway to Heaven.”)


Known for his trademark baseball hat with propeller, Tanner has popularized other catchy, sing-alongs including “My Hair Had a Party Last Night,” “Flying Purple People Eater,” and “The Unicorn Song.” His multi-generational show gets the crowd involved through energetic and animated singing and dancing.

“I change the songs up, and they take on a different spirit from night to night, although there are about five that I have to do every night or audiences will be disappointed,” Tanner said. “Refreshingly, it’s the same in that I’m able to build a rapport with kids and see families year after year.”


Kids are invited to make a joyful noise on stage and off. And after the show, Tanner is available to chat with youngsters and their families, writing inspirational notes on kids’ beanie hats. He may not remember every name, but he never forgets a face, he said. “The shows have always been family-oriented. I try to create a good balance between doing my kids’ stuff and throw in just enough grown-up stuff to keep families entertained. That’s a fine balance.”

Apparently, he is succeeding.

“My in-laws have been coming for 30 years,” said Jaime Gould, mother of four from Ohio. “We come to HarbourFest every year”—a story we hear repeated throughout the evening as we mingle with the crowd.

Although the event has grown and evolved, the spirit remains the same, Tanner said. “I am honored to be part of their vacation memories, and I don’t take it for granted. Thirty years … it blinked.”


Around the corner, another iconic HarbourFest character, the beloved Cappy the Clown, is perched in her giant red chair, painting faces and creating balloon animals. But she’s doing a lot more than just clowning around. She touches the heart of every child who visits, imparting her special brand of humor, kindness, encouragement, and that vital one-on-one attention every young person craves. “It is therapeutic for them and therapeutic for me. I love making people feel good,” she said.

“We love Cappy the Clown,” said Deborah Marciniak, from Cumming, Georgia, who is here with her seven-year-old granddaughter Laci. “My son is in theatre, and she talked to him a few years ago. She’s very inspiring. She loves kids and does a great job with the crowd.”

Another wildly popular activity is the array of bounce houses, provided this year by a new vendor. Originally from New York, attorney Brian Swann and his wife Julieann, a former attorney who is now teaching fifth grade in the IB program at Hilton Head Island Elementary School, are the proud owners of HHI Bounce House, offering a variety of inflatable adventures to delight children of all ages.

Fireworks serve as the centerpiece of HarbourFest. This year, fireworks shows will be held on Tuesday nights through August 14, beginning at dusk, weather permitting. Hilton Head Island’s largest fireworks display takes place on Wednesday, July 4 (note there is no Tuesday, July 3 fireworks show).

For a different vantage point, consider booking a boat cruise or guided kayak tour and view the fireworks from the water. Visit www.sheltercovehiltonhead.com/fireworks-cruises or call (866) 661-3822 for cruise information and reservations. For kayak tours, visit www.outsidehiltonhead.com or call (800) 686-6996.

But the party doesn’t end with the Tuesday night fireworks extravaganza. Tanner also performs his traditional family show Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a special performance on Thursday evenings, June 14 through August 16, when HarbourFest turns into a Caribbean paradise. At the Thursday event, dubbed “Parrot Palooza,” Tanner and his Jimmy Buffett tribute band, the Oyster Reefers, offer free attitude adjustments. The show starts at 7 p.m. and is family-friendly.

Cappy the Clown will also be on hand all summer, Monday through Friday, from 6-9 p.m. and Sunday, September 2, along with other entertainment including arts & crafts, and a variety of interactive games and activities.

HarbourFest is the happening place to be this summer. If you are a local resident, come on down and enjoy a mini-vacation from your everyday routine. For visitors and returning guests, it’s a no-brainer. See you there!

Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina is located mid-island at mile marker 8 across from Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, offering casual waterfront dining, unique shopping, live entertainment and beautiful views of Broad Creek. HarbourFest and Parrot Palooza are free and open to the public. Food and drinks are available for purchase. Events are weather permitting and subject to change. For more information, call (843) 686-9098 or visit www.palmettodunes.com/harbourfest-hilton-head.php.

Shelter Cove Harbour Event Schedule
Shannon Tanner show times: 6:30 & 8:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday)
Saturday & Sunday, September 1 & 2.
Cappy the Clown: 6-9 p.m. (Monday-Friday) Saturday and Sunday, September 1 & 2
Parrot Palooza: Thursdays, June 14-August 16. Show starts at 7 p.m.

2018 Fireworks Schedule
Fireworks begin at DUSK, weather permitting:
Wednesday, July 4

Tuesdays, July 10, 17, 24, 31
Tuesdays- August 7, 14

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New and Improved Performance Stage and Pavilion
During the offseason, the Shelter Cove Company, who manages the common area around the Harbour & Marina, implemented a $325,000 renovation to the performance stage, area seating, lighting and planters, etc. The new pavilion is more open, and the oyster shells surrounding have been replaced with pavers.

The pavers are personalized bricks that can be purchased for $149 to $248, depending on the size of the brick. More than 200 bricks were purchased in phase one, and phase two of the Pavilion Pavers Project is now sold out. Orders for phase three can be placed online at welcometosheltercove.com/thepavilionpaversproject.

“The entire Shelter Cove Harbour has changed completely. Our harbor is 100 percent full of boats and our amphitheater remodeled,” performer Shannon Tanner said. “The legacy bricks are taking off like crazy—selling like hotcakes. Everything just looks so polished and clean. It really revolutionized the look of the whole harbor. It’s taken that area and breathed new life into it.”

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Meet the Artist
If you’ve seen the colorful poster commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of HarbourFest, stop by and say hi to artist Amiri Geuka Farris, creator of the original work of art. Farris is a contemporary artist known for dynamic, powerful artwork that combines an alluring blend of vivid colors and layered textures. His work has been featured in more than 50 one-man gallery shows across the U.S., including Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture.

Currently, Farris is a professor of foundation studies and fine arts at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and was recently named Artist of the Year by the Port Royal Sound Foundation in Beaufort, South Carolina. HarbourFest is an excellent opportunity to meet the artist and collect his art.

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