Ocean City Today

Annual Sunfest festival in OC begins Thurs.

Four-day event features arts and crafts vendors, food and live musical acts
By Kara Hallissey | Sep 14, 2017
Hundreds of people take a break from browsing vendor booths and finding a bite to eat to listen to music during Sunset 2016. Let year’s festival saw the largest crowds in event history with 251,577 people attending.

(Sept. 15, 2017) An Ocean City tradition returns to the resort next Thursday with four days of arts and crafts, live entertainment, food and family activities during the 43rd annual Sunfest.

The festival, which marks the end of the summer season, kicks off Thursday, Sept. 21, in the inlet parking lot under large tents with more than 300 vendors and food booths filled with one-of-a-kind items and delicious treats all weekend long.

More than 250,000 guests visited Sunfest during a record-breaking year in 2016.

“Sunfest was originally designed by locals,” said Frank Miller, special events director for the Town of Ocean City. “They brought baked goods and music to celebrate the end of the season and interest grew. It is all about creating an experience for residents and all of our guests.”

The festival kicks off at 9:45 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 21, with a parade down the Boardwalk from 12th Street to the inlet featuring Stephen Decatur High School’s marching band, cheerleaders and choir in addition to city council members and Mayor Rick Meehan.

At the conclusion of the parade, Sunfest will open at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:15 a.m. led by Meehan with performances by the marching band, cheerleaders and choir members.

“Sunfest is a unique event in many ways,” said Jessica Waters, communications manager for the Town of Ocean City. “For those who love fall festivals and being able to enjoy the beautiful weather outdoors, this is the perfect event. There is free entertainment daily, great shopping, delicious food and family-fun for everyone.”

Following the ceremony, Rick K & The Allnighters will launch the live entertainment in the inside tent at 10:45 a.m. The Recreation Dancers will take the stage next at 12:30 p.m., followed by Front Page News at 2:30 p.m., local favorite Teenage Rust at 4:30 p.m. and a ticketed performance by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy rounds out the shows at 8 p.m.

On the outside stage, Janglebachs will perform at 11:30 a.m., followed by Rick K & The Allnighters at 1:30 p.m., Randy Lee Ashcraft & the Saltwater Cowboys at 3:30 p.m. and DJ Batman at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. See a fireworks display at 10 p.m.

Live acts from bluegrass sounds with multiple instruments to reggae music will entertain guests for free all weekend, including a special performance by Beatlemania Again to close out Sunfest at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24.

“The free music runs all day, every day until the headliners start warming up,” Miller said. “It is a mix of people our visitors come back every year to see and new bands. We are always trying new things.”

Three ticketed performances will start at 8 p.m. each night, Thursday through Saturday, with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy kicking off shows on Thursday. Tickets cost $10-$35. Next Friday, country music fans will gather at the inlet to catch Clint Black perform. Tickets cost $25-$60. Then, next Saturday, Christopher Cross will take to the Sunfest stage to sing his favorites. Ticket prices range from $35-$60.

“If you want to be entertained, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is a concert you need to come and see at Sunfest on Thursday,” Miller said. “Clint Black is almost sold out and Christopher Cross has a lot of famous songs.”

Tickets for the headlining acts are on sale at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center box office on 40th Street. Box office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests can purchase tickets by calling Ticketmaster at 800-551-7328 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the festival grounds until they are sold out.

In addition to live music, hundreds of local, regional, commercial and national vendors will be at Sunfest selling a smorgasbord of items from yard art and photography to pottery, bacon specialty foods, crab cakes, pit beef, LuLaRoe and bonsai trees. There will be two tents filled with arts and crafts booths, Miller said.

“We have a little over 300 vendors and about 75 percent are arts and crafts,” Miller said. “There will be a wide variety and you can’t go wrong. There is something here that will interest everyone in the family.”

Guests can watch 12 artists create wares in the demonstration tent and purchase them on the spot.

For children, there will be hayrides on the beach, inflatables and sand art for a small fee. Lollipop the Clown will also be roaming the festival grounds all weekend.

“OC Painting Experience will provide a new experience for our guests,” Miller said. “For a small charge, visitors can paint a picture on site.”

In addition, Fiat Chrysler will have the Jeep Compass Experience course set up on the beach for visitors to try out for free.

“Guests will be able to ride along with a Jeep product specialist on Ocean City’s beach as they showcase its capabilities,” Miller said. “There will be a big course on the beach, east of Sunfest, next to the inflatables and hayride.”

Sunfest hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 21-23, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24.

“This event is all about local tradition,” Miller said. “Leave yourself a good amount of time. It takes about three hours to see everything.”

Because parking is limited, visitors should consider taking the resort bus to the festival grounds. The West Ocean City Park and Ride on Route 50, just west of the bridge, provides free parking and a $3 ride-all-day shuttle service to and from South Division Street, a block from Sunfest. The Special Event express shuttle service will pick visitors up from the convention center, where they can park for free, and take them directly to Sunfest for a $3 ride-all-day fare.

The Boardwalk tram will also be in service during Sunfest with fares running $3 each way.

For more information on bus fares, call Ocean City Transportation at 410-723-1606.

Visit http://ococean.com/sunfest for the full schedule of Sunfest entertainment or call 800-626-2326 for more information.

In conjunction with the festival, the 42nd annual Sunfest Kite Festival will take place Sept. 21-24 on the beach between Third and Sixth streets, bringing four days of kite-flying to the resort.

Thousands of guests come out each year to see master kite flyers from around the world and to participate in a variety of family-friendly activities including games with the chance to win prizes, kite competitions, workshops, lessons and relays.

Next Saturday at 1:30 p.m., the first 60 children between the ages of 5 and 12 will receive a free kite. There will be professionals on hand to assist children with assembling and launching.

Call 410-289-7855 or visit www.kiteloft.com for more information.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.