OCEAN CITY – Brad Hoffman is quietly becoming one of the most successful special event promoters in Ocean City, but oddly enough, he’s often most recognized for something he did more than two decades ago and got paid nothing for but a few free sandwiches.
Hoffman, known as “B Rad” amongst locals and visitors, has his iron in a lot of fires as they say, either spearheading or contributing to the town’s biggest special events, including the Cruisin’ weekend, the OC Car and Truck Show, and the inaugural Beachfest, which Hoffman hopes will be the next big thing as far as special events are concerned.
“We don’t have an ocean-based festival in Ocean City that really captivates what we are all about here”, said Hoffman. “I’ve been in the surf and skate industry my entire life, and although I think Springfest and Sunfest are great, I think we need to finally bring an event to Ocean City that caters to a younger demographic and the beach lifestyle.”
What Hoffman, his business partner Brian Stoehr, and various other colleagues have planned for June 19-21 is a citywide event that will mirror the X Games as far as events, and numerous activities and amenities for families to enjoy.
Despite his growing resume of sure-thing business generators for the town, and a fast talking business savvy that is often charging at the same pace he might shred a wave with while surfing, Hoffman is most recognizable for his spokesperson duties on local cable channels for Anthony’s Beer Wine and Deli.
“I feel like I’m the most underpaid ‘Jared’ in history,” said Hoffman. “The length of time those commercials have been on television, I almost feel like I wish I got paid a quarter for every sub sold or something, because everyone knows me for that, but I’ve accomplished so much more.”
Hoffman says that as he’s gotten older, and settled down with wife Mary Pat and 2-year-old daughter Molly, he is a bit more hesitant to jump into the spotlight, and rather hopes the events that he plans do all the talking that’s needed.
“I want to build something for my family”, said Hoffman. “Some people build restaurants, and some people build skyscrapers, but I want to build events and have my family see that I can take an idea and turn it into a reality and have thousands of people come through the door.”
Hoffman said the Beachfest idea came to him several years and several projects ago. He said he saw the irony in the fact that the event will finally take place in what is such a tough economic time for sponsors, participants and spectators.
Hoffman remains confident, however, that Beachfest will be a success.
“You can’t get this kind of event unless you pay big money, and we are building our own,” said Hoffman. “We are building our own X Games from the ground up, whereas other places have to spend millions of dollars on an event like this.”
If you look at some of the areas that will host some of Beachfest’s events, including the Ocean Bowl Skate Park, which is the oldest skate park that has never been shut down in the world, according to Hoffman, it becomes apparent that an event to the scale of Beachfest was not just needed, it was inevitable for someone to try to pull off.
“I’m very much an abstract thinker, so I try to picture in my head what I would want to see if I was a 14-year- old kid and walked in the convention center,” said Hoffman. “When we drew up beachfest village at the convention center, I wanted to see BMX bikers flying through the air, while the battle of the bands jam out on stage, see the game of skate going on over here, see the obstacle course, see the surfboard museum, see all this in one place on Saturday night at Beachfest. That’s an event I would want to see.”
Hoffman got started in the late 80s in Ocean City as a musician who saw that the promoter was making more money than the bands he was playing in, and that led him to promoting weekly concerts at local clubs, which evolved to Localpalooza, a Surf Expo, which he later sold to a corporation, and eventually the OC Car and Truck Show.
Perhaps Hoffman has a foresight to see what is going to work well, as in the case of the OC Car and Truck Show, or maybe his passion just exudes from an abstract mind so much so that people not only gravitate toward the idea, but also the event.
“If we can get (Beachfest) off the ground in the first year, and have people see what you are doing, I truly believe it could be the next big success story in Ocean City,” said Hoffman. “Sunfest started in the 8th Street parking lot, so with the growth of new and exciting events in the town of Ocean City you’ll see us turning the next page in special event production.”
Hoffman believes that special events are the vital component in helping to build the shoulder months in Ocean City and could be the lone hope to making this resort resemble ones that operate at a high level year round.
“We have a great beach town, but we don’t always have the most connected beach culture,” said Hoffman. “We need to be more progressive, more aggressive and we are going to have to figure out a future plan for Ocean City rather than just having our foot firmly placed in the past and just expecting that everyone will just always come here.”
In the end, Hoffman said that though he could have gone down a million different paths, as he’s literally worn the hat of countless professions, he has found his true calling as an event promoter and he credits his many partners, and colleagues, in helping him create his legacy in Ocean City for himself and his family.
Yet, Hoffman realizes and reluctantly embraces the fact that part of that legacy includes people continuing to ask him, “How’s Your Sandwich?”