By Hunter Hine, Staff Writer
(May 4, 2023) Last year, a storm brought Springfest to an abrupt end, but the annual festival returns for its 32nd year at the inlet parking lot, today through Sunday.
The celebration focuses on music, food and arts and crafts, with live music and free performances throughout the day and one headliner each of the first three nights.
The first three days run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday the festival will close at 6 p.m.
For the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on Thursday, the OC Stars from Ocean City Elementary will perform.
“Even with the storms we had [last] weekend, preparations have been very smooth, so we’re very happy with how things have turned out this year in terms of us getting ready for the event,” said Frank Miller, director of the Ocean City Special Events Department.
It’s an event that generally draws around 100,000 people, and has attracted as many as 160,000 in the past, Miller said.
The three music headliners will play inside the 1,750-seat pavilion at the side of the lot closest to the beach from Thursday to Saturday, starting at 7 p.m. each night.
It begins with Shadows of the 60’s, a tribute to Motown’s Super Groups, then Collective Soul on Friday and finally Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives on Saturday.
Attendees must buy tickets to attend the three main shows. Prices range from $110 to $20 depending on the show and seating section, and they can be bought online. Links to the Ticketmaster pages for each show are available at https://www.ococean.com/springfest/music-lineup/.
All the other performances are free, as so is Springfest.
The line-up of free shows includes many local and regional groups, such as Poole and the Gang, Front Page News, Rt 50, and the Mathew Street Band.
Regulars like the Elvis cover band Bob Lougheed & The Memphis Mafia, and Rick K Road Trip will perform as will some new musical faces that includes up-and-coming country singer Sam Grow and Neil Diamond tribute band Real Diamond.
The live music will be surrounded by refreshments, including a food tent featuring around 10 vendors, and gourmet food options located in the midway area.
Revenue from beer sales will go to support four local nonprofits: The Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines-Ocean City, Art League of Ocean City, Ocean City Lioness and the Knights of Columbus.
Specialty beverage sales, which includes options like margaritas for Cinco De Mayo, will go to support the Ocean City Recreation Boosters.
Other tent sections will also house vendor booths with more than 200 artists and craftspeople along with many more pop-ups from businesses and organizations.
Besides the music, food and drinks, Springfest will also offer a few special activities.
On Thursday at 6 p.m., Star Wars Fans are invited to dress up like their favorite character and join the Mayor’s Bike Ride and Boardwalk Parade to celebrate May the Fourth, — as in May the Fourth be with you. Riders can bike with Mayor Rick Meehan on a Boardwalk loop beginning and ending at South First Street.
There will also be painting activities with T.C. Studios instructors and supplies included, and inflatable play-places on the beach.
Trimper Rides, located on the end of the Boardwalk, is opening for Springfest with $30 tickets for unlimited rides all four days.
Jolly Roger, which is just off the lot by the pier, is offering three deals: a $5 off day or nighttime armband, a $10 off two-hour armband at Speedworld Go-Kart Track, and buy one get one free at Jolly Roger Mini Golf, both at 30th Street.
Just hours before one of Springfest’s headliners, Starship, were set to perform at last year’s event, a violent nor’eastern stopped the festivities short only halfway through.
“Last year was a little dramatic on weather, but we were ready and we always are because we’re outdoors,” said Brenda Moore, a special events coordinator for Ocean City.
This year, Miller said organizers are “optimistically confident” that the days ahead hold fair weather for Springfest. If it’s just some rain, the show will go on. That’s what the tents are for, Miller said.
“The flipside of the rain and wind that we sometimes run into is these incredibly beautiful, sunny days at the beach, at the ocean, along the Boardwalk that are just perfect for families to come and visit and get great memories and have a great time,” Miller said.
Organizers are still constantly monitoring the weather, so if they see a storm system approaching, they can make an appropriate call on the severity and notify attendees, Miller said.
Miller also advised visitors from western and central Maryland to come prepared for the temperature drop between mainland and shoreline.
“You might be coming from a 75 degree day, come to the ocean and you’re sitting at 63,” Miller said.
The inlet lot will be completely closed, and nearby parking will likely be hard to find, so Miller and Moore encourage visitors to park in designated lots and use Ocean City’s public transportation, and Springfest’s shuttle system.
Shuttles will run from the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street and the Park and Ride in West Ocean City.
“What it (Springfest) has done to help boost that tourism crowd into May is quite substantial, and we’ve seen events fill in after Springfest to continue that trend as we head toward Memorial Day and the normal summer season,” Miller said.
For more information, visit https://www.ococean.com/springfest/
What: 32nd annual Ocean City spring festival
Where: inlet parking lot
When: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, May 4-6, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 7, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Thursday, 10 a.m. – opening ceremony, inlet lot
- Thursday, 6 p.m. – Mayor’s Bike Ride and Boardwalk Parade; 5 p.m. registration at South First Street
More info: https://www.ococean.com/springfest/