Ocean City Today

Ocean City’s 43rd annual Sunfest festival underway

By Kara Hallissey | Sep 21, 2017
Hundreds of people take a break from browsing vendor booths and finding a bite to eat to listen to music during Sunfest 2016. Last year’s festival saw the largest crowds in event history with 251,577 people attending.

(Sept. 22, 2017) An Ocean City tradition is underway, featuring four days of arts and crafts, live entertainment, food and family activities during the 43rd annual Sunfest celebration.

The festival, which marks the end of the summer season, kicked 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.

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 began Thursday morning 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 opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“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.”

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.

“Where else can you find an event that has something for the grandparent all the way down to the grandkids,” Waters said. “There is a reason that Sunfest has been a huge success for 43 years and it’s because there is something fun for everyone.”

Three ticketed performances will start at 8 p.m. each night through Saturday. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy kicked off shows on Thursday night. Friday, country music fans will gather at the inlet to catch a sold-out Clint Black performance. Then, on Saturday night, Christopher Cross will take to the Sunfest stage to sing his famous tunes. Ticket prices range from $35-$60.

Tickets for Cross are on sale at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center box office on 40th Street from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday. Guests can purchase tickets by calling Ticketmaster at 800-551-7328 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com or at the festival grounds.

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.

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.

Sunfest hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22-23, 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.”

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.

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, candy drops, workshops, lessons, relays and a kite auction.

In addition, there will be a variety of kite shows including a flight of Trilobites, which are large, colorful and unique.

On 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.

For more information, call the Kite Loft at 410-289-7855 or visit www.kiteloft.com for a schedule of events.

Also this weekend, Park Place Jewelers will host its eighth annual Sunfest Treasure Hunt on the beach, Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. For a $15 donation to the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House by the Sea, the first 100 to sign up each day will get the chance to dig in the sand for prizes from gift certificates to local restaurants and retailers, diamonds, gemstones and additional jewelry.

Register for the treasure hunt at either of Park Place’s locations, on the Boardwalk at Third Street or in the White Marlin Mall on Route 50 in West Ocean City at any time. Participants must be at least 18 years old.

Treasure hunters should meet in front of the Boardwalk store 30 minutes before the dig for a briefing on the rules. Participants can wear gloves, but may not use shovels and buckets. The hunt takes place rain or shine.

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 on 40th Street, where they can park for free. It will take riders 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 about 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.

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