Scaled Back Springfest Discussed

Scaled Back Springfest Discussed
The footprint of the typical Springfest, pictured at the Inlet parking lot, has been modified for next month. File Photo

OCEAN CITY — With a modified 30th annual Springfest still scheduled to go on next month, resort officials this week approved the tent agreement with a private provider for the event.

The Mayor and Council on Monday heard a request to approve the tent lease agreement for Springfest 2021, which will mark its 30th year May 6-9 in a modified, scaled-back format because of ongoing COVID restrictions on gathering sizes and social distancing. Special Events Director Frank Miller presented the proposed lease agreement with J.V. Chujko Communication and Event Services, Inc.

The proposed contract calls for J.V. Chujko to provide the tents for the modified Springfest event with a total price tag of $68,545, which includes the rental, installation and tear down. With little discussion, the council unanimously approved the tent lease agreement. According to the terms of the contract, time was of the essence for approval with the event now just a month out.

In February, the Mayor and Council approved the modified format for Springfest 2021 because of the COVID restrictions. The event will still take place on the Inlet lot as usual, but the food and craft tents will be spread out and open-sided with strict adherence to social distancing, crowd size limitations and the wearing of masks in the event footprint for example. Throughout the pandemic, Miller has been charged with coming up with modified plans for many of the town’s special events, including the critically-acclaimed walk-through Winterfest of Lights, and his plans for a modified Springfest were well received earlier this year.

In terms of food service, there will be a food tent, but the tent will be open on all sides to create an outdoor feel. There will likely be less vendors and they will be further spread apart. There will be tables in the food tent, along with an adjacent beer garden with tables, but visitors will be encouraged to purchase food and beverages, find a seat and consume it before moving on. Socializing around the tables will not be allowed and there will be a controlled entrance and exit point to limit crowd sizes within the food tent.

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In terms of the traditional arts and crafts, there will be craft tents, but they will have wide, open airy walkways. Miller said he expects less vendors, but interest in the spring event has been solid. The vendors will be properly distanced with plenty of open space. The vendors will strictly adhere to the state sanitation guidelines and there will be sanitizer and wipes throughout the venue.

Perhaps the most noticeable change will be the entertainment. Current state directives do not allow for large gatherings for indoor concerts, so there will be no entertainment tent and no ticketed national act shows. Instead, there will be a single outdoor stage on the beach facing the ocean for smaller free concerts.

In terms of the cost of producing the event, Miller said he was confident Springfest would end up in the black. Estimated decreases in expenses include lower tent rental costs, the removal of the custom inside stage with lighting and sound systems and, of course, the lack of national acts for ticketed concerts. The net decrease in expenses is estimated at $173,000.

However, losses are expected on the revenue side because of fewer vendors, decreases in beer, wine and merchandise sales and the loss of three days of ticketed concerts. Miller estimated the net gain on the revenue side at around $30,000 to $40,000.

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.