The Neptune Festival is an annual festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce President and RK Chevrolet founder Richard Kline created the idea in 1973, to celebrate the heritage of the city. The first celebration took place in 1974.
The Virginian-Pilot Beacon reported attendance of about 50,000 people at the first festival, with seafood selling out before the festival ended. Actor Lyle Waggoner from The Carol Burnett Show was the Grand Marshal of the parade.
At the corner of 31st and Atlantic in Virginia Beach, there is a 34-foot-tall (10 m), 12.5 ton statue of Neptune, Roman god of the Seas. The statue was dedicated on September 30, 2005 during the Neptune Festival Boardwalk weekend.
The Boardwalk Weekend includes the International Sandsculpting Championship, Art & Craft Show, food, and live music. It also includes a surfing contest, a foot race, a volleyball tournament, and a parade. The event is free and open to the public, with the exception of a tent-covered viewing fee of the sand sculptures.
While it is a prominent and lucrative festival, the Neptune Festival was embroiled in a gender discrimination controversy in November of 2020 when a male high school junior’s application was rejected, because the “royal court” only allows for the participation of high school girls and adult men. The issue was resolved in March of 2021 when the festival changed its policy and admitted its first "Prince".
- Virginia Beach Neptune Festival : A Local Legacy, Library of Congress "America’s Story"
- "A Festive Idea Turns 25" by Pam Starr, The Virginian Pilot, September 25, 1998, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-68451252.html Archived 2012-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2012-09-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Parker, Stacy. "At what point does one decide: I'm going to become a professional sand sculptor?". pilotonline.com. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
- Focke, Cindy Butler. "Artist fell in love with art 17 years ago in Virginia Beach, and won this years Neptune Festival show". pilotonline.com. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
- Parker, Stacy. "Room for a prince? Virginia Beach teen wants to buck tradition of Neptune Festival's royal court". pilotonline.com. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
- Parker, Stacy. "Virginia Beach teen rejected in bid to be Neptune Festival prince". pilotonline.com. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
- Parker, Stacy. "Virginia Beach Neptune Festival will have its first prince". pilotonline.com. Retrieved 2021-03-10.