Sunfest Attendance Hits 186K

OCEAN CITY – The 39th Annual Sunfest brought in the largest attendance since 2008, marking the end of the summer season but serving as a reminder to the locals and visitors alike there is still much more to look forward to in the coming months.
Sunfest took place last weekend drawing a crowd of approximately 186,779 people to the Inlet Lot, beginning on Thursday and appropriately ended on Sunday as it was the first day of the fall season.
As always, Sunfest was four fun-filled days of music, food, arts and crafts. The event was recently ranked the best Arts & Crafts show in the nation by Sunshine Artist magazine and the 2012 Finest Festival for Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore by Maryland Life Magazine.
Accompanied by beautiful weather, Sunfest featured over 300 vendors, along with live music, hayrides on the beach and a wide and delicious offering of food. The festival grounds at the Inlet Parking Lot were bustling with visitors, as attendance was up 1,761 from 2012, boasting the highest attendance since 2008 and trending above the five-year average of 175,299.
“I am extremely pleased to report that we had a very successful Sunfest,” said Director of Recreation and Parks Tom Shuster, who recently announced he will retire sometime in 2014. “We had outstanding vendors, great entertainment, fabulous weather and the largest attendance since 2008. It was a picture perfect weekend and an outstanding event for the Town of Ocean City.”
The Comcast Entertainment Pavilion was the venue for the headliner entertainment, where an enthusiastic audience of 1,367 was on hand for Jesse Garron’s Tribute to Elvis on Thursday night.  On Friday, a sold out concert turned out for country entertainers Kip Moore and Kacey Musgraves and The Beach Boys played to a full house on Saturday night.
Crowds enjoyed additional entertainment, including new Sunfest performers like Full Circle, Lady Invidia, The Patty Reese Band, Mockingbird Sun, the Jimmy Charles Band, the Power Play Band, Separate Ways “Journey Tribute”, the Weird Science Band and the US Army Field Band featuring the Concert Band and Soldiers’ Chorus.
The 40th Annual Sunfest is marked for Sept. 18-21, 2014, but first will come Springfest from May 1-4, 2014. Tickets for Springfest headliner Merle Haggard, who will perform on May 2, are on sale now.
At the age of 73, Haggard, a veteran singer/songwriter is still making some of the most compelling music of his long and storied career. Haggard is widely regarded as country music’s greatest living recording artist recording an incredible string of classic hits including “Swinging Doors,” “The Bottle Let Me Down,” and “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive.”
As Sunfest brought the 2013 summer season to a close in Ocean City, there is still much more to look forward to in the offseason.
Between Oct. 1 through April 30, pets are allowed on the beach and boardwalk, as well as bikes and skateboards are allowed on the Boardwalk from Tuesday after Labor Day through Friday before Memorial Day, except for during the times of Sunfest and Springfest.
Additionally, paid parking rates are now only enforced Friday-Sunday and will be removed completely from the streets and municipal lots for the off-season by Oct. 15.
Also, the Inlet Parking Lot rates during the summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day are $2.50 during the weekdays and elevate to $3 on the weekends. During the shoulder season, Labor Day weekend through Memorial weekend, the rate drops to $1.50 per hour at all times.
Events will continue into the off-season, starting this weekend with the 18th Annual Wine on the Beach at the Inlet Lot featuring wineries from the East Coast, micro-brewed beers, international cuisine, arts and crafts vendors and entertainment by Bird Dog and the Road Kings. The festival will be open Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The 16th Annual Endless Summer Cruisin’ takes place Oct. 10-13 with over 2,000 rods, customs, classics and trick trucks cruising the streets. The main event will take place at the Inlet lot, but there will be various satellite locations throughout the city, including the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, Hooters Restaurant, the Town of Berlin, Gold Coast Mall, Phillips Seafood House and others. There will be plenty of entertainment, games, giveaways and much more.
OCtoberfest on the Beach takes place Oct. 19-20 and 26-27. There will be a beach maze with wicked witches, pirates of the sand, scary scarecrows, ghouls in the graveyard, zombies from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A Howl-o-ween Pet Parade will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. on the Boardwalk at N. Division St. Prizes and surprises await the best costume for pets, family and friends. There will also be a Great Pumpkin Race featuring tricked out pumpkin race cars on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m. on N. Division St.