Two opposite ends of town will play host to equally opposite groups – belly dancers and zombies – this weekend when both groups debut their own large-scale events in Middletown.
The belly dancers will dance their way into town first when the Jewels of the Orient Bellydance and Wellness Festival opens Friday night at the Everett Theatre. They'll stay throughout the weekend but by Saturday morning, on the other side of town at Frightland, zombies will appear as if from nowhere (thanks to a few patient make-up artists) to play an intense game of "keep away" with would-be victims who actually signed up to do so at the inaugural Delaware Zombie Run.
Ticket sales for both events are selling at a healthy rate but there's still time to participate as well.
Here's what to know before you go:
Zombie Mud Run
- WHERE Frightland, 309 Port Penn Road, Middletown
- WHEN 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 15
- COST $75 for human and zombie runners; $35 for non-running zombies; $20 for spectators
- INFO www.thezombiemudrun.com/middletown-de-zombie-mud-run
A battle will be fought this weekend at Frightland during Middletown's first-ever Zombie Mud Run. Much like a typical mud run, this 5k course features obstacles to test strength and endurance and lots and lots of mud. The difference is that participants are also trying to stay just out of reach of grabby zombies, who are desperate to get their hands on the hearts, brains and entrails of runners.
Well, not really. What the zombies are really after are the three flags that runners are wearing representing a few vital organs. Every person who makes it through the race with at least one flag can count themselves as a survivor. Those that complete the race with no flags, cross the finish line as a new member of the undead.
Event organizer Patrick Konopelski said that one of the best things about the zombie version of the mud run is that all skill levels can – and do – participate, adding that even though running is involved, "it's about having a good time, too."
Participation is allowed in several ways: Sign up as a "human" and try to make it to the end with all three "organs" intact; Sign up as a "zombie only" and do little to no running while also trying to scare runners into a total standstill; Sign up as "zombie" who also gets to run the course as a human during one of several heats, which will take place over the course of the day; Finally, sign up to be a spectator and comfortably watch the whole scene unfold before you.
Page 2 of 3 - For those who decide to run as a "human," Konopelski said that there are several strategies to consider.
"Not everybody has the ability to barrel through it. If you can't keep yourself ahead of the undead, you have to start looking at who you can sacrifice," Konopelski said. "I recommend choosing your friends wisely."
Those interested in participating as zombies are welcome to take care of their own costumes; however, Konopelski said that they have a team of people on-site who can turn the most innocent face into quite a terrifying picture of the undead.
Like other events at Frightland, part of the proceeds of this event will raise money for the Leukemia Research Foundation of Delaware. For more information or to sign up for the run, visit www.thezombiemudrun.com/middletown-de-zombie-mud-run.
Jewels of the Orient Bellydance and Wellness Festival
- WHERE The Everett Theatre, 47 W. Main St., Middletown
- WHEN Friday, June 14 through Sunday, June 16
- COST $7 to $12 per event
- INFO www.jewelsoftheorient.com
Valerie Poppel (also known as Nefertiti in belly dance circles) hopes that residents find themselves inspired with this weekend's first Jewels of the Orient Bellydance and Wellness Festival taking place at the Everett Theatre and Gibby Center for the Arts.
"Our beautiful dancers are all shapes and sizes and have amazing confidence," said Nefertiti. "I think the people who attend will find themselves amazed and inspired."
The event is bringing together more than 40 international dancers who will compete in contests and lead workshops, lectures and participate in one jaw-dropping showcase and fashion show.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about belly dancing and see that it is beautiful, cultural and great for all ages," said Nefertiti. "When people come to the workshops, they will get an amazing workout that works all those core muscles. Our shows will be just as amazing and feature performances that combine Middle Eastern dance, modern dance and tribal fusion style."
Each day of the festival brings a new feast for the senses and includes:
7:30 p.m., Friday, June 14 Jewels of the Orient Bellydance Contest. The competition features two categories, with three sections in each group. Dancers from all over the country will be competing for an all expense paid trip to Europe to teach and perform at the Euro Raks Festival in Poland. Other prizes include cash, costumes, vacations and teaching opportunities. The winner will not be announced until the showcase Saturday night. Tickets will be $10 at the door or $7 in advance.
Page 3 of 3 - Saturday, June 15 Five workshops are scheduled for Saturday, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Aimed at every level of experience, the classes will explore movement and personality. Vendors will also be on site with jewelry, perfume, organic soaps and more. Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m., the Jewels of the Orient Showcase and Fashion Show will begin. The showcase features 45 performers.
"Our dancers represent all ages and walks of life," said Nefertiti. "These ladies and gents – yes, men will be there, too – will present you the best in Middle Eastern dance."
In addition to the showcase and fashion show, the belly dance contest winners from Friday night will be announced.
Sunday, June 15More workshops and lectures on the business side of belly dancing are scheduled.