Springfest Crowds Up 10%

OCEAN CITY — The 20th
Annual Springfest celebration in Ocean City posted its highest numbers in five
years as far as attendance goes, but according to town officials, the spending
habits of those who came and went last weekend was still humble at best.
Recreation and Parks Department Director Tom Shuster reported at Tuesday’s
Recreation and Parks Committee meeting that more than 103,000 people were
estimated to have visited Springfest last weekend, exceeding last year’s
attendance numbers of 93,000 by 10-percent.
Shuster also reported that the five-year average for Springfest has been a bit
more than 101,000, and he said that he was pleased with the turnout.
“Our biggest day was Saturday when we estimated that more than 45,000 people
came through the gates and even though we didn’t sell out any of our shows,
they were still well attended and we had a lot of new vendors, who I think left
very happy,” he said.
At first glance, Springfest could be a sign of things to come for the summer
season, as town officials were banking on the idea that people are anxious to
get out after an unusually cold winter and more than a year of fiscal
frugality.  Yet, as Councilman Jim Hall pointed out, the crowds didn’t
necessarily mean big bucks for vendors.
“I heard mixed reviews,” said Hall. “Some vendors said they had the worst year
ever and others said they had the best year ever. I definitely think that
there was a feeling of the economy and people are still holding onto their
wallets very closely.”

Evidence came in the
form of attendance for the ticketed entertainment events including Thursday’s
Captain Fantastic (Elton John tribute act) that filled less than half of the
1,700-seat tent.

“We grossed almost
$73,000 in revenue from the ticketed events, but we think that some people may
have been shying away from the ticket prices,” said Shuster.

Friday and Saturday
headlining acts the Country Rat Pack (featuring current charted country acts
such as Tracy Byrd, Tracey Lawrence and Richie McDonald) and the Teen Idols
(featuring Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, and
Mark Lindsey of Paul Revere and the Raiders) failed to sell out, posting ticket
sales of a little more than 1,000 and 1,147, respectively.

“It had to be the ticket
prices because if the festival was well attended but fewer people bought items
and went to the shows, if they aren’t shopping in the tents, they certainly
aren’t going to spend $40 on a concert ticket,” Hall said.