Like it or not, the H2Oi event has become a major force on the Ocean City area’s special events calendar.
While not an official sanctioned event in the town, there is little question this one-time small event now rivals some of the larger vehicle events held in the area, such as Cruisin’, Jeep Week and Bike Week. Each of these events bring their own set of issues, but largely this Volkswagon and Audi show generally attracts a punk element unlike the other events.
As is the case with all these automotive events, the H2Oi event is much more than just a weekend affair, although the actual show aspects take place on Saturday and Sunday at Fort Whaley campground off Route 50.
The event is now more of a week-long affair. In fact, last weekend on Assateague Island, I was behind a group of about 20 Volkswagons waiting to get through the fee entrance to the federal side. That was a nice $300 bump for the federal park.
The economic impact of the event cannot be understated. It has helped transform what was previously a quiet weekend for the area into one with no vacancy signs at lodging establishments and waits at restaurants. The down side is the many complaints annually about this event. The concerns reached their apex last year when the city’s police department and elected officials were forced to address the event in a public fashion after a weekend of brash antics, massive traffic backups and general rudeness by attendees. The goal during last year’s review of the event was to heighten the city’s dialogue with the event promoter and try to achieve a partnership similar to the one the city has with Cruisin’ promoters.
That appears to now be in place, although the event promoter maintained this week it’s important to remember to a degree the event’s hands are tied. He said it’s not an Ocean City-based events and he can only control one person’s actions — himself.
“I don’t support, promote or produce an event in Ocean City, but I work closely with the police department and city officials to try to improve participants’ behavior but again these are individuals. I can’t control everybody,” the promoter said. “We need to focus on the positive. This event produces good business for Ocean City on this weekend. The thing that we need to remember that there is a bad apple in every bunch and unfortunately we can’t control them all but focusing on the positive will help alleviate some problems.”
All that sounds great, but the event website does contradict him and clearly Ocean City is being used as a marketing draw. It’s understandable, of course, because Whaleyville will not have the same appeal.
The website reads, “H2Ointernational, the ‘laid back’ 2-day watercooled VW Audi Event … Ocean City, Maryland.”
If you have been over the Route 50 Bridge this week, you have surely noticed the large pipes and machinery being staged in the coastal bays.
The $6 million effort should come as welcome news to boaters, as the plan is to dredge the channel running through the Isle of Wight and Sinepuxent bays to an average depth of six feet with various widths depending on location in the watershed.
Clearly, this is a project that is desperately needed. The back bays have been filling in for years, but this past summer I heard more complaints than ever how navigating through the shallow areas had become problematic. While the deepness has always been a concern, the narrow passages for boaters were of equal worry this past summer because the depth dropped dramatically on the channel edges.
Hundreds of thousands of cubic yards dredged from the channel will be deposited at various areas, including on the Inlet beach for use by the town.