Even With Weather, Springfest Attendees ‘Come Anyway’

Even With Weather, Springfest Attendees ‘Come Anyway’
AndyDavis Sunday

OCEAN CITY — Despite the pouring rain and strong winds that marked the opening of Springfest late last week, the annual event was a huge success with Saturday being one of the strongest days in terms of attendance in nearly two decades.

For years, longtime locals have often referred to Springfest as Stormfest, or similar monikers, because of the propensity of the annual event to occur during a significant storm event. There have been years in the past when a Nor’easter has blown through during Springfest weekend and the annual event has been a washout.

For a while last weekend, it appeared that might be the case this year. On Friday, pouring rain, strong winds and cool temperatures did threaten to washout the annual festival and some tents were blown down, but the weather changed for the better by Saturday and Springfest rallied to actually improve on last year’s attendance totals. Special Events Director Frank Miller briefed the Tourism Committee on the Springfest totals on Monday and said event drew over 106,000 attendees.

“Springfest ended on a positive note despite the rough start,” said Miller on Monday. “Friday was down considerably because of the wind and rain, but we quickly rebounded on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was the second best in terms of visitors since 2000.”

Miller said Springfest continues to be a major special event for the resort despite some the challenges that often come with the uncertainty of the weather. He said the various vendors and most visitors will come regardless of the forecast.

“We’ve found people are very dedicated to Springfest,” he said. “Despite the weather, they’ll come any way. The vendors were all happy when they were packing up on Sunday and most said they will be back next year.”

Miller said the concerts on each night during Springfest last weekend helped drive the attendance totals. Each of the concerts was nearly a sellout including Joan Jett on Saturday night, which drew about 1,800 attendees.

The success of Springfest carried over to other areas in the resort including public transportation. Transportation Direct Mark Rickards on Tuesday briefed the Transportation Committee on ridership totals for the weekend and reported both the municipal bus system and the Boardwalk trams were up considerably over last year.

Rickards said roughly 34,000 people rode the municipal bus over the weekend, which was up about 7 percent over last year’s total for the same weekend, which came in around 32,000. The Boardwalk tram also enjoyed a big weekend with over 1,800 riders on Saturday alone.

“Despite the weather in the beginning, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were all up over last year,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised. We hit our deployments and it was very smooth overall. Friday was kind of a slow start because of the rain, but we moved a lot of people on the tram the rest of the weekend. It was a good dry run for Memorial Day weekend.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.