Downtown Merchants Voice Concerns Over Oceans Calling Festival

Downtown Merchants Voice Concerns Over Oceans Calling Festival
The Boardwalk is pictured in downtown Ocean City. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Downtown business owners say they want to work with town officials and organizers to address various concerns as planning progresses for this year’s Oceans Calling Festival.

On Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the performance lineup was announced for this year’s Oceans Calling Festival, downtown business owners met with City Manager Terry McGean and Mayor Rick Meehan to share their concerns about a proposed footprint and point-of-sale (POS) system for the upcoming event.

While business owners say they are excited to see the festival return in 2023, they want town officials and the promoter, C3 Presents, to work with merchants as planning progresses.

“We want this event, and we are excited,” said Kevin Gibbs of The Dough Roller. “We just want to make sure it’s done in a way that’s safe and fair for businesses.”

In an interview this week, Gibbs said Wednesday’s meeting allowed business owners to discuss logistics and ask questions. He said merchants were concerned about the festival footprint, which would fence in the Boardwalk area from North Division Street to the Inlet. He said the promoter is also proposing a point-of-sale system, which would be used within the festival area.

“They would like to basically put a point-of sale-system into your building and have you pay. There are so many logical issues to that …,” he said. “We would have to train our entire staff on the new point-of-sale system, we wouldn’t be reimbursed until like 10 days before the festival, and they want to put a 15% vendor fee on top of total sales.”

Downtown merchants said those were just some of the many concerns voiced at Wednesday’s meeting. Wendy DiBuo, who serves on the board for Windsor Resorts and whose family owns and operates the Cork Bar and Crawl Street Tavern, said she is eager to work with the town and the promoter to address the owners’ questions.

“I am very excited to have an event of this magnitude come to Ocean City,” she said. “I was also very pleased that the mayor and other town officials agreed to meet with the downtown business owners that will be directly affected by the Oceans Calling event. Individual businesses as well as downtown business owners have questions and concerns about certain aspects of the event and had an opportunity to share them at the meeting.”

When reached for comment this week, McGean said he was pleased with the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting.

“It was good to be able to get everyone together to, one, dispel a lot of rumors and, two, listen to the different genuine concerns of the business, which included the POS system (I think there was also some miscommunication on exactly what that meant) and the concert footprint,” he said. “We will look to work with the promoter to address some of the concerns expressed at the meeting and then meet again in the near future.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.