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Ocean City

Sunfest vendors offer array of food, crafts, other items

(Sept. 19, 2014) Allen Taylor has been bringing his smoothies, frozen coffee and fresh-squeezed lemonade to Sunfest shoppers for more than 20 years.

Ocean City’s largest fall festival kicks off the “second season” in the resort, Thursday, Sept. 18, with four days of arts and crafts, live entertainment, food and family activities during the 40th annual Sunfest. In addition to music, hundreds of local, regional and national vendors will be at Sunfest selling everything from jewelry and handbags to ceramics and smoothies.

He makes the trip from Pasadena to Ocean City each year because, of the 65 shows he attends, Sunfest, he put simply, “is the best.”

“It’s laid out well. The crowds are nice. There’s great entertainment, great food, great shopping,” said the owner of London Court Beverage. “This is one of the best festivals on the East Coast.”

Taylor joined more than 300 other arts and crafts and food vendors this week setting up at the midway and under giant tents at the inlet, where they will sell wares from pottery and paintings to one-of-a-kind handbags and gourmet food this weekend during the 40th annual Sunfest.

Events kicked off yesterday and continue throughout the weekend, when Sunfest is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the south end of Ocean City’s Boardwalk.

For Kelly Zimmer-DeMichele, of Island Sand Sculptures, word of mouth was the deciding factor that brought her and her Sarasota, Fla., business to Ocean City this weekend.

“Ocean City being on the ocean and Maryland being a nautical state, it’s a good fit,” said DeMichele, who with her husband Allan makes marine-themed sand paintings out of beach sand and lightweight cement. The couple has scenes from turtles and sea horses to a Maryland blue crab for sale at their booth, available in painted patterns or three-dimensional “rust pieces,” she said.

After traveling the Florida and Michigan circuit, DeMichele hopes Sunfest will help grow Island Sand Sculptures’ reach.

“We’re hoping to make a lot of money and to show our art, and that people will love it,” DeMichele said. Visit www.islandsandsculptures.com to see works by Island Sand Sculptures.

Another new vendor, Not Sisters Two’s Elaine Bond decided to sign up for a table at Sunfest after reading about its awards, including Sunshine Artist magazine’s top pick in its 2014 best shows list.

“It is rated in all our trade magazines as the No. 1 show,” said Bond, who makes and sells one-of-a-kind leather and fabric handbags. “It’s so well run and it’s very popular with all of our clients.”

Shoppers at her booth can find handmade bags that are truly unique because she never makes the same bag twice, Bond said. A five-year Springfest vendor, she hopes Sunfest will bring return customers from the event earlier this year.

“If we do as well as we do at Springfest, we will be very happy,” she said.

Visit www.notsisterstwo.com to see examples of Not Sisters Two’s work.

Bishopville local Kathleen Davis, who has been selling at Sunfest for more than two decades, said the customers keep her returning to the midway each year.

“We get to see everybody we know,” said Davis, who is selling hanging chairs and gold-filled jewelry. “You’re going to find unique things there that you don’t find anywhere else, plus they’ve got good music all day long and good food.”

Ben May, of Hampstead’s Ben May Clay, agreed: “Sunfest brings out a great crowd.”

“Its an end-of-the-summer celebration,” May said. “There’s live music all day, food vendors and craft vendors. It’s just a last hoorah of the summer.”

Returning for his fourth Sunfest, he’s giving demonstrations on his potter’s wheel at his booth, where pieces such as mugs, bowls, plates and dishes are on sale. See May’s work at www.benmayclay.com.

Parking is limited at the festival grounds downtown and Sunfest patrons should consider using city buses. The West Ocean City Park and Ride, on Route 50, just west of the bridge, provides free parking and a $3 ride-all-day shuttle service to and from South Division Street, a block from Sunfest. Parking is free at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street, where the Sunfest Express shuttle picks up riders for a direct route to Sunfest for a $3, ride-all-day pass.

For more information on bus fares, call Ocean City Transportation at 410-723-1606.

Visit http://oceancitymd.gov/Recreation_and_Parks/specialevents.html for the full schedule of Sunfest entertainment or call 800-626-2326 for more information.

Sunfest is open today and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the inlet at the south end of Ocean City’s Boardwalk.

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