Memorial Day weekend is the first of three Muscle Beach Venice bodybuilding and figure contests that take place throughout the summer season each year adjacent to the “pit,” the city-run outdoor gym on the Venice Beach boardwalk.

The Venice Beach Classic bodybuilding and figure contest will span two days this year, starting with preliminary judging at 11 a.m. and continuing through the afternoon Sunday, May 29th.

Finals start at 11:30 a.m. and run through the afternoon on Memorial Day Monday, May 30th, onstage at the Venice Beach Recreation Center, 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice. Spectator admission is free.

The main producer of the contests is bodybuilder Joe Wheatley, whose Joe Wheatley Productions organizes the show in conjunction with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

This year the contest will center on the 40th anniversary of Gold’s Gym, a landmark Venice gym and hangout of Muscle Beachers.

The Muscle Beach Venice Classic began in the 1980s, replacing the Mr. Venice Beach contest.

The contest, which has been around in one form or another for over 40 years, traditionally consisted of men’s and women’s bodybuilding competitions.

Since Wheatley has taken on the production duties of the show, a new “figure” competition for women, focusing on toned, sexy bodies developed at the gym, has been added to the event.

Registration in the show is open to amateur contestants and participants from local, national and international bodybuilding circuits.

Each year, influential bodybuilders from the Muscle Beach scene of yesteryear are honored for their contributions to bodybuilding.

This year’s honorees into the Muscle Beach Hall of Fame include Armand Tanny and Frank Zane, as well as a posthumous nod to Steve Reeves.

Tanny won the titles of Mr. USA and Pro Mr. America in 1950. Reeves was a champion bodybuilder and screen actor appearing in classic films such as Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah.

Zane, a three-time Mr. Olympia winner who prides himself on defeating Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1968 Mr. Universe competition, has composed a tune, “Ode to Muscle Beach,” which he plans on performing for the crowd.

Heading up the musical end of the show, 98 lb. Weakling, a rock band fronted by Eric Fleishman, who works as a personal trainer, will perform at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29th.

The event will also feature a Memorial Day portion on Monday, May 30th. An Army color guard and an F-16 flyover is planned during the singing of the National Anthem at the start of finals on Memorial Day.

Navy representatives plan to host a 50-foot replica of the U.S.S. Nevada near the stage. About 45 new recruits are to be inducted into the Air Force as part of a ceremony on the stage, says Wheatley.

Other branches of the armed forces will be represented at the event with displays of Humvees and static equipment or will have representatives on hand to interact with the public, Wheatley says.

Information, (310) 399-2775.

VETERANS PROGRAM — Veterans and community members plan to gather at an annual Memorial Day Celebration organized by the Westside Veterans Memorial Committee.

The program, scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday, May 30th, at the Westchester Elks Lodge, 8025 Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey, will feature a musical performance by Jeanie Talbot, who will sing a medley of “patriotic songs,” according to organizers.

The Westchester Elks Lodge and the Westchester Rotary Club help each year to organize the event and have invited representatives from the American Legion Post #689 of Mar Vista; American Legion Post #188 of Inglewood;

Jewish War Veteran Friendship Post #617; Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1476 from the Palms area; Boy Scout Troop 915; and Girl Scout Troop 506.

The program is free, and the Westside Veterans Memorial Committee is offering free rides to the event for those without access to transportation.

Information, (310) 331-1551.