OCEAN CITY- Special events officials this week gave an update on this year’s successful Sunfest as they looked forward to the arrival of this year’s Winterfest of Lights and sought approval of 2013 Calendar of Special Events.
This year was the 37th year Sunfest was held in Ocean City. Director of Recreation and Parks Tom Shuster reported a successful Sunfest this year despite some challenging weather. There were 154,507 visitors to the festival grounds at the Inlet during the 2011 event.
“While the festival grounds were bustling with visitors, attendance was down by seven percent from 2010 due to rain three out of the four days of Sunfest,” Shuster said. “In fact, we experienced the most inclement weather since Hurricane Isabel in 2003.”
This year, the Comcast Entertainment Pavilion was the venue for the headlining entertainment. Scheduled entertainment almost sold out while 1,690 people attended the Drifters, Coasters and Del Vikings on Thursday night. Attendance increased on Friday evening for the performance of rising country star Jamey Johnson, in which 1,187 attended. Turnout reached a high of 1,780 visitors on Saturday night as legend Kenny Rogers performed. New entertainment this year included the performers Nathan Johnson, J.P. McDermott and Western Bop, Front Page News, The Stickers, Queen City Funk and Soul, Crowded Outhouse, OH BOY!, and The Regal Beagles.
“For the second year in a row, Sunfest was recognized as the number one Arts and Crafts Show in the nation by Sunshine Artist magazine,” Shuster said.
He added that preparations for Sunfest went smoothly this year as tents were prepared on festival grounds much earlier in order to accommodate the OC Bikefest, which was held on the same grounds the week before Sunfest.
Special Events Director John Sullivan announced preparations for Winterfest of Lights have commenced.
The city has a fleet of ten trailers that Winterfest’s displays are stored and they were transported to Northside Park during the duration of Sunfest.
“The parts division of Recreation and Parks have been revolving and reworking all those displays as they are taken out of the trailers,” Sullivan explained. “That is going extremely well.”
The tent to be placed over Winterfest Village is scheduled to go up on October 17. The festival’s opening night is on November 17 with an opening ceremony.
“We invite everyone to come and have a ride for free that first night,” Sullivan said.
Shuster also presented the Mayor and City Council with 2013 special event schedule.
“We work to project into the future our dates that our major current events will occur to have all of our partners in production and other activities aware of these dates,” Shuster said.
Councilman Joe Hall became concerned that the town’s Tourism Advisory Board hasn’t had the chance to review the proposed schedule and make suggestions before the calendar is advertised.
“It’s an expenditure of our dollars that it utilized to build tourism and our tourism partners that we have engaged haven’t given an opinion on it,” he said.
Despite his concerns the council voted 5-2 to approve 2013 special event calendar, with Councilman Brent Ashley and Joe Hall opposed.
Shuster explained that typically the Recs and Park Department share the proposed schedule with tourism partners such as Ocean City Hotel Motel Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce.
“Should they have any comments in respect to any strong issues with it, obviously we would feel compelled to bring that back to you and give you the opportunity to revisit that,” he said.