(May 2, 2014) The summer season officially launched yesterday with the opening ceremony at Springfest, Ocean City’s four-day event with food, live entertainment and arts and crafts vendors.
Each year, the festival draws tens of thousands under its big-top tents at the inlet parking lot, at the southern tip of the Ocean City’s famous Boardwalk, and the 24th annual event is in full swing.
With more than 250 artisan vendors, fare from deep-fried Twinkies to soft shell crabs and a full lineup of free musical acts, it’s the to-do event this weekend.
“It’s the springtime kickoff to Ocean City’s summer season at the beach and Boardwalk — an event for the whole family you don’t want to miss,” said Brenda Moore, special event coordinator for the Town of Ocean City.
Admission is free to Springfest, except for some headlining musical acts that require tickets.
Thousands travel from around the country each year to enjoy the music, wares and fare at Springfest. Last year despite temperatures in the low 50’s, the event drew a crowd of 97,021 and even more came in 2012, when 106,321 guests showed for the four-day event.
“We are expecting a great turnout. After such a long, snowy winter, I think people are ready to kick off the season,” Moore said.
More than 250 vendors will be onsite offering everything from jewelry and candles to photography, clothing, pet accessories and many more items.
Springfest visitors should also bring their appetites as more than 30 food vendors and gourmet tables will dish up a variety of cuisine, from Eastern Shore crab cakes to North Carolina barbecue, funnel cake, pizza and a variety of ethnic dishes.
Children’s activities include inflatables on the beach, a rock-climbing wall, hair wraps, temporary tattoos and sand art.
There will be musical performances from country and jazz to dance troupes and a tribute to classic British rock, all free, at Springfest.
Visitors can catch the shows starting at 10 a.m. every day through Sunday, with the British Invasion, Sir Rod and Randy Lee Ashcraft & The Saltwater Cowboys lined up, just to name a few of the acts. New this year, Robert Eric’s Tribute to the Piano Man will deliver Billy Joel’s hits to the crowd, closing out Springfest on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets are required to the headlining acts, which included a sold-out performance by county music legend Merle Haggard tonight. Haggard has recorded almost 40 No. 1 country music hits and has taken home Grammy, CMA and ACM awards.
On Saturday night, Loverboy and special guest The Reagan Years will rock the crowd starting at 8 p.m. For more than 30 years, Loverboy has been “Working for the Weekend” at shows across the globe, performing hits such as “Lovin’ Every Minute of It,” “Hot Girls in Love” and “Turn Me Loose.”
Tickets to the show were still available at press time and cost $20-$45. They can be purchased by calling 1-800-626-2326, on site at the festival’s ticket booth or through Ticketmaster.com.
“Springfest is fun for people of all ages and admission to the four-day event is free,” said Jessica Waters, communications manger for the Town of Ocean City. “Ocean City celebrates the start of the season with the 24th annual production of Springfest.”
Parking is limited in downtown Ocean City, so the city will offer shuttle buses to and from the West Ocean City Park and Ride on Route 50 to Springfest. For more information about the shuttle service, call the Ocean City Transportation Department at 410-723-1606.
Springfest runs today and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, visit www.ococean.com/springfest or call 800-626-2326.