(June 28, 2019) “It took a sea of people to raise the Jellyfish Festival,” Live Wire Media owner and event organizer Brad Hoffman said about the success of last weekend’s inaugural Jellyfish Festival.
The three-day celebration of “the art of music and sports” was sponsored by the Town of Ocean City, Livewire Media and Events and Culture Changers LLC.
The mostly free, large-scale music and sporting event took over six blocks in downtown Ocean City, from Caroline Street to north of the pier, and staged a series of concerts on all three days.
The festival was also filled with extreme sports demonstrations, freestyle motocross, yoga, Hydro Beach Fit Challenge, sound and light shows across multiple stages, and various forms of family entertainment.
“It went beyond expectations with the entertainment and the crowd sizes,” Hoffman said. “The village was packed. The skate ramp was firing on all cylinders … the size and the scope of this event was impressive.
“Not to mention the big entertainment area being free all day up until 5 p.m. was great,” he continued. “People could come in and they could hang out and see some bands and have a drink if they wished to.
The best day for the event was Saturday, which had perfect early summer weather.
“Saturday was huge on numbers when you combine [our festival] with our beautiful weather, a vacationing crowd and people that came in for the big day to see Styx, Crack the Sky, The Ravyns and Stone Senate,” Hoffman said. “Any big event Saturday, if you have good weather, is going to be your biggest day.”
Hoffman acknowledged that Friday did start somewhat more slowly since people were coming from work and reaching the resort from various destinations.
“Early in the morning, one day I was sitting in Dunkin Donuts grabbing a coffee to go, and a gentleman in there with a Styx shirt goes, ‘I’m not from around here, but when I heard this band on the beach, we rented a hotel room for three nights and we came down to make it a stay,’” Hoffman said. “So that was the goal.”
Shows might not have sold out, but big crowds did turn out for Classic Saturday, which comprised of Styx, Stone Senate, The Ravyns, and Crack the Sky.
“It was exciting to see that Styx, the headliner, really put in the big crowds,” Hoffman said.
Other acts had included “Fresh Friday” headliners like Badfish, Ballyhoo!, King Schascha featuring Black Dog Alley, and Sweet Leda. Scheduled as supporting acts were Muskrat Lightning, Lower Case Blues, The Rogue Citizens, and Melissa Alesi.
“Music with a Message Sunday” with headliners Newsboys and Crowder, with supporting acts Nathan Jones, 3C live, Mike Chapman and The Jody Pyles Band, saw a decent crowd as well, Hoffman said.
“Sunday was over the top,” Hoffman said. “It was well received, Crowder and Newsboys and Nathan Thomas and 3C Live and Jody Pyle along with Mike Chapman … They came in and they had a day of fellowship on the beach, which was really neat to see when it all came to a crescendo with Newsboys and Crowder. I felt like that day was one of my more favorite days to personally watch come together.”
The event was also profitable for the town, and Special Events Coordinator Frank Miller said he is looking forward to seeing how this year’s show can be built on for next year’s edition.
“Obviously the desire is for the town to always continue to have great events including some version or multiple versions of a beach-based concerts opportunity for our patrons and our residents,” Miller said. “Jellyfish has definitely gotten further than either of the past two companies that have come forward and asked to do something similar.
“They have pushed the boundaries for what has been tried in Ocean City over the past two decades,” he continued. “We’re glad they did and the town is definitely interested in continuing that opportunity of moving forward.”
Hoffman also saw how success the event was and how it affected the resort’s economy.
“[You draw in one person] and do that times hundreds and thousands of people ... that moves the economic meter,” Hoffman said. “I think we took what is typically a show slower weekend before July 4th and boosted that meter up in the air.
“The placement of the dates was ideal throughout the whole event whether it was Boardwalk, people or local business people, or locals that would come in or visitors or tourists, they all seem to love what we have put together … they enjoyed it,” he added. “And for a first-time event I don’t think you can ask for more.
“To facilitate and deliver that idea takes a huge team of people,” said Hoffman, who added, “I want to do a big shout out to OCBC (Ocean City Baptist Church). They came in with a volunteer group that was there the whole weekend, whether it was helping lifting fencing or helped working with teams of people to get the crowd in. They were amazing.”