(May 3, 2019) Handcarved angel wings, handmade handbags and accessories, soups and fried foods are just a few of the items vendors will be selling under large tents in the inlet parking lot during Ocean City’s 29th annual Springfest festival.
Thousands of people from all over the country attend the festival each year to browse more than 200 artisan booths or purchase something to eat at one of the more than 30 food vendors.
“It’s one of our favorite festivals,” Matt Varnadoe of FryDay Concessions said. “It’s just different with the arts and crafts and different tents and how they collectively put all the food booths together. People come in and see all the food that are available, they can sit down and enjoy their food.”
The concession stand vendor and his wife, Brittney, have been traveling from Texas to Springfest for more than 20 years, selling Polish and Italian sausages, jumbo pretzels, all beef hotdogs, French fries, fish and chips, corn dogs and fresh lemonade.
“There’s a tight-knit group with the vendors, especially the food vendors,” Varnadoe said. “We get a lot of returning customers because they know what they’re getting.”
Varnadoe said he first heard of the festival from fellow food vendors at other events nearly two decades ago.
“Some vendors have been coming for years and years, and if you love that great festival food just go stand in the tent for 20 minutes … you can smell those wonderful aromas from festival food,” Ocean City Special Events Coordinator Frank Miller said.
Some vendors, like Lauren and Dale Pinder, have been selling merchandise for six years.
“We’ve known about Sunfest and Springfest for years, and we actually had attended there as patrons many years ago and we decided we wanted to try it with the business,” Lauren Pinder said.
Pinder and her husband, of Caroline County, are the Eastern Shore distributors for Mick’s Gourmet Soups and Gifts, a Waldorf-based gourmet seafood soup company that offers lobster bisque, cream of crab and clam chowder soups.
“So many people come from all over to enjoy all of the crafts and art and the food,” Pinder said. “It’s just a really good, fun time for family, and a lot of people come.”
Set up in the Gourmet Foodies tent near the outdoor stage, Mick’s Gourmet Soups offers free samples before people make a purchase.
“I invite as many people [as possible] to come and sample the soups, because that’s what we offer; free samples of all the soups,” Pinder said. “They can try it before they buy it. That is a really fabulous thing to be able to do before they purchase, to try the different ones and then they can pick what they’d like to have.”
Teal Treasures will debut at Springfest this year, offering apparel for what owner Audrey Kromel calls “motorcycle boutique.”
“I usually come down to Hooper’s [Crab House] in the spring for Bike Week [but] West Ocean City is adding a Starbucks in the spot we were in and several other stores so they canceled,” Kromel said. “I love Ocean City. It’s our favorite place to come and I had known about Springfest and I thought we would try that this year to see how it goes.”
Kromel traveled from Greenburg, Pennsylvania, bringing motorcycle apparel for men and women, jewelry, handbags, headbands and other handcrafted items for the event.
“I hope that there is an interest in what we have,” Kromel said. “I’m hoping for good weather and a good turnout.”
Vendors travel from all over the United States to participate in Springfest.
“The vendors may change up so you’ll see some new vendors here and there,” Miller said. “You’ll see your favorite vendors as well … whether it’s on the food side or the arts and crafts side or the commercial vendor side.”
Also new to Springfest this year is Kelley Bowers, of New Jersey, who creates angel wings.
“I hand sculpt angel wings and from there I paint them and put inspirational messages down the center,” Bowers said. “Sometimes it’s a name or a memorial, but they are super inspirational. I love what I do.”
Bowers first heard about Springfest while selling her crafts at another show.
“One of my co-workers that I go to Sugarloaf [a festival in Gaithersburg, Maryland] with, she told me about Springfest and she’s been doing it for 20 years,” Bowers said. “You meet people throughout these circuits and then you talk about other shows. I applied last year.”
In addition to angel wings hand carved out of wood and canvas, Bowers also sells angel-themed apparel including sweatshirts, hats and pendants, and jewelry.
“There is something that will resonate with you,” Bowers said. “It’s more about finding your inner peace and your happy place. There is an angel out there for everyone. Come in and just be inspired.”
For more information, visit www.ococean.com/springfest.