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.
Sullivan thanked the numerous people and departments that contributed to the success of Sunfest this year.
“The public works maintenance and the parks crews were awesome,” he said. Sullivan also noted the contribution of the police as well as the use of public transportation.
Sullivan also mentioned an increasing desire of vendors to be a part of Sunfest.
“The quality of the vendors continues to improve,” Sullivan said. “There are probably 500 vendors who want to be in Sunfest.”
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 only area that was down in revenue this year was in the area of children’s activities, which the committee attributed to the fact that Sunfest is geared toward an older crowd.
Besides being nearly $41,000 ahead on revenue, Sullivan reported the town was also under budget. Sullivan explained that, as of today, the city had only spent $341,000 of the $359,000 budget. That number will change however as additional money is spent, such as money to rent the warehouse for storage. However, Sullivan maintained that no heavy money would be spent.
The committee agreed that the 2007 Sunfest was a success for the town.
“Sunfest is an opportunity to do something that really benefits the community,” said Tom Shuster, Director of Recreation and Parks, adding that it reinforces the notion that Ocean City is a quality place to visit and to live.
The issue of bringing wine back to Sunfest was also addressed during the meeting, and forwarded to the Mayor and Council work session later on Tuesday 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 wine would be beneficial to bring back to Sunfest. The increase in beer size was not as widely accepted.
“I support the idea of the wine booths,” said Councilman 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.