(May 17, 2019) The resort may have been dealt a blow when the Dew Tour left four years ago, but the inaugural Jellyfish Festival, June 21-23, looks to recapture much of that spirit, but with a more homegrown, local flare.

The three-day event will highlight “the art of music and sports” and is sponsored by the Town of Ocean City, Livewire Media and Events, and Culture Changers LLC.

Organizer Brad Hoffman said the idea for the event came about in the wake of the Dew Tour’s departure.

“I’ve lived in Ocean City for over 35 years and been a part of the community, whether it’s been surfing or skateboarding or producing events,” Hoffman said. “Back when the Dew Tour was here I was lucky enough to work on that event.”

Hoffman is also a promoter for area events including Ocean City Jeep Week and the OC Car and Truck Show.

“I have deep roots in the surf and skate industry, and I have my own trade shows that produce events and did marketing, so when the Dew Tour left town I thought there was a vacuum, but I definitely wanted to work with some great people to build something different,” he said.

Surf competition

Hoffman said the former festival was “a young-based event that had music and had beach culture, the town was all about it, and then it went away.”

“I wanted to build something that would stay here, that had roots in the community, paid attention to the local bands and the local music community – as well as celebrated national acts – and then built in some surfing, skateboarding, fitness components, music for kids and art for kids. [I wanted] it to be even more organic than what a big company could produce when they take over a footprint.

“We wanted to do something that was all about the community, but also on a national level – all about the sports and the culture that we love, but with a local feel – but with a lot of national brands supporting it,” he added.

The large-scale music and sporting event is set to take over six blocks along downtown Ocean City, north of the pier, with three themed days of music, featuring “Fresh Friday,” “Classic Saturday,” and “Music with a Message Sunday.”

Local, regional and national musical acts are booked, along with extreme sports demonstrations including freestyle motocross, fitness components, sound and lights shows across multiple stages, and family entertainment.

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 21 and 22, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Ballyhoo!

“Fresh Friday” headliners include Badfish, Ballyhoo!, King Schascha, and Sweet Leda. Scheduled as supporting acts are Muskrat Lightning, Lower Case Blues, The Rogue Citizens, and Melissa Alesi.

“Classic Saturday” headliners are Styx, Crack the Sky, Ravyns, and Stone Senate. Supporting acts are Lauren Glick Band, Monkee Paw, Frankie Moran, Skribe, Don Hall Main Street Blues Band, West King String Band, and Full Circle.

Styx

Scheduled for “Music with a Message Sunday” are headliners Newsboys and Crowder, with supporting acts Nathan Jones, 3C live, Mike Chapman, The Jody Pyles Band, and OCBC Band.

Smaller stages throughout the festival grounds will feature acoustic acts and additional entertainment.

Other scheduled activities during the Jellyfish Festival include:

Monster Hydro Beach Fit Challenge - A 250- by 350-foot “sand ninja” style course will test the skills of children and adults as they crawl over, under and around obstacles. Anyone can participate in the activity, but registration must be completed online in order to reserve a spot. Fitness specialists will oversee the course.

Monster Freestyle Motocross Team - Monster is known globally for its high-flying Freestyle Motocross team, performing stunts from backflips to superman’s, and front flips to can-cans. The festival will host daily freestyle motocross shows from the Monster team Friday through Sunday at times to be announced. There will be athlete meet and greets after the shows.

Monster Energy Freestyle Motocross

Fat Tire Bike Zones - Hang out with Tres Denk and the Eastern Shore International Mountain Biking Association as they produce a fun, “fat tire” bike area on the sand where riders can enjoy this newest rage in the bicycling community. Fat tires ride smoothly on the sand and on the beaches.

Ultimate Frisbee Tournament – A high school division from the Delmarva areas as well as an eight-team elite division with players from all over the country will participate.

Many of the competitors have been featured during elite Frisbee tournaments nationwide. Most of the games will be four-against-four mixed matches. Trophies and gift packs will be awarded.

Also scheduled are freestyle disc demonstrations and a nine-hole disc golf course on the beach. Events will also include a Friday night clinic for children, and youth tournaments on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, email Bryant Dean at oeancitybeachultimate@gmail.com.

Jellyfish Arts and Crafts Tent - Local, regional and national artisans will show off their crafts to the attending public. In this same zone, guests will also find a kids’ art and music area. Local musician Lauren Glick will use her teaching skills to inspire children as budding songwriters.

OC Painting Experience and TC Studios will host a Jellyfish “Art Zone” in the tent.

Jellyfish Tow-At Surf Event - In the evening from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, guests can watch regional and nationally competitive surfers battle it out in a unique, exciting and fast-paced format. A field of 12 will compete for the championship.

Schedule and times are subject to change because of swell conditions. Check Facebook for updates.

Jellyfish Indo Board Expression Sessions - Indo Board creator and guru Hunter Joslin will host expression sessions and clinics. The Indo Board is a balance trainer used by athletes and non-athletes alike that is both entertaining and interactive.

Jellyfish Skate Jams – Locals and pros can mingle on the beach on a 40-foot wide mini-ramp. Also going on at the Ocean Bowl, the festival will include an old-school skate jam tournament for all skill levels. The event will include music, expression sessions, and contests with judges and awards. Participants will receive prizes and free swag. Times and performances are to be announced.

Skate bowl competition

The Jellyfish Festival will also feature a preview day, Thursday, June 20, for first responders. Hoffman said that portion, coinciding with the Maryland State Firemen’s Association Annual Convention, would serve as a stress test and a “soft sound check” for the main event.

“It’s a day to celebrate first responders, military, marine, police – all the people that keep us safe,” he said. “The mayor thought it was a great idea and I’m working with the folks from the Firemen’s Convention to create it.”

He said the event would include a video slide show and live music, with a folk and country vibe.

Hoffman said the goal for year one of the Jellyfish Festival is to produce something that’s both economically and culturally successful for the town.

“We want to continue to be able to make this happen and provide success for the businesses, whether they’re a part of it or not a part of it – whether it’s the pizza place on the Boardwalk or the hotel up the street, or the retail store or the candy shop. We want them all making money at the end of this thing.”

As for the cultural take away, Hoffman said he wanted attendees to check yes on whether Jellyfish “was fun, was cool, was hip.”

Beach fitness course

“I want everybody to have a blast. I want it to be successful, but I want everybody to have a blast,” he said. “You can bring your kids, you can do a bunch of cool stuff, you can hang out and listen to some great music, you can see right on the beach, or you can go right up on the Boardwalk – to me, there’s not a better home for any festival.

“I’m blessed to be able to work with the Town of Ocean City and the mayor and the council, and Donna [Abbott] at the tourism department and Frank [Miller] at special events, and all the entities of the city that are making this thing happen. This is a big team effort – it’s not just me,” he continued.

“The biggest thing people can do is buy tickets and support this event. We want it to be a big success right out of the gate,” Hoffman added.

Single-day passes start at $49 and two-day passes start at $79. To purchase tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.com or www.jellyfishfestival.com.

Jellyfish also has sponsorship, partnership, and booth space opportunities for any budget still available. If interested, contact Salty Selt at selt@comcast.net or 410-251-4923.

Josh Davis is an MDDC award-winning editor and reporter at the Bayside Gazette and Ocean City Today newspapers, covering Berlin and Ocean Pines, Maryland. He is the author of three novels, including 'Vanishing is the Last Art' (2012). He lives in Berlin.

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