OCEAN CITY – Many people have speculated this year’s Sunfest was one of the busiest on record, but that rumor was officially confirmed Tuesday with Special Events Coordinator John Sullivan’s report to the Recreation and Parks Committee about the success of this year’s event.
According to Sullivan, this year was the second best year for attendance, reaching an estimated total of 183,377 people, “which is something we should be really proud of,” he said. The 2002 edition narrowly marks the highest recorded Sunfest attendance with 183,767 people. Besides having the second best year for total attendance, this year’s Sunfest marked the highest recorded attendance for Thursday and Friday nights, bringing in 46,305 on Thursday, nearly 10,000 more people than last year, and 46,293 people on Friday. Sunday also brought in the most Sunfest attendance since Sunday of 2002.
Sullivan explained that although a lot of hard work and effort was put into making Sunfest a success this year, the weather invariably served as the major factor in that success.
“The weather is what makes us so wonderfully successful,” he said, adding that even the hour of rain worked to the town’s benefit.
Sullivan explained that the hour-long downpour herded people into the tents, filling up the food tent and boosting vendor sales. The near perfect weather the rest of the weekend made the brief rainfall a non-issue, resulting in a successful weekend overall.
Revenue was also up this year, according to revenue estimates presented by Sullivan.
“We are very proud of our revenue to date,” Sullivan said.
To date, this year’s estimated revenue is $382,162, which is the highest recorded revenue, topping last year, which brought in $349,581.
Entertainment made up a large chunk of the revenue, bringing in $106,418 from the three major entertainers, the Hubcaps, Heartland and Josh Gracin, and Wayne Newton. Sullivan pointed out that roughly $92,000 was spent to bring the entertainers to Sunfest, with an outcome of $106,418.
The issue of bringing wine back to Sunfest was also addressed during the meeting, and forwarded to the Mayor and Council work session later that day for further discussion. The idea to make the change from 12 ounce to 16 ounce beer cups was also introduced and forwarded to the work session.
The Mayor and Council agreed that with the re-emergence of wine as a vogue item it would be beneficial to bring it back to Sunfest. The increase in beer size was not as widely accepted.
“I support the idea of the wine booths,” said Council member Jay Hancock, “I have a little concern about the 16-ounce beer cups.”
The council voted unanimously to have Sullivan look into the addition of wine vendors. The increase in beer size was shelved pending further discussion.
To read the full story, see The Dispatch on Friday.