(April 20, 2018) Although the show is still in development, the Ocean City Council has agreed to spend nearly $200,000 to help create the Jellyfish Festival, a three-day celebration of music and extreme sports tentatively slated for next June on the beach and other venues in the resort.

The event is the brainchild of Live Wire Media’s Brad Hoffman, who first joined Endless Summer owner Salty Selt to produce a marriage of top-flight musicians and extreme sports stars. More recently, the pair brought in a new partner, Illusion Sound & Lighting owner Brian Giblin, who owns massive stage infrastructure and has extensive music industry contacts.

The festival concept was pitched on April 5 to the Tourism Advisory Board, which voted unanimously to forward the matter to the mayor and council.

Tourism Advisory Board Chairman Greg Shockley told the council Monday night that Hoffman had initially introduced the idea by himself but was rebuffed.

“Brad came back with Salty and we sent him away again and they did more work,” he said. “They came back with Brian Giblin and that was the piece that finalized the package.”

Although musical acts are still being finalized, Shockley said the intent is a family-oriented event.

Shockley said the tourism advisory board recommends tentative approval of approximately $198,000, or 75 percent of a $220,000 funding request, which will be subject to a memo of understanding between the city and event organizers.

“They need this initial commitment, not a final commitment, to get this process started,” he said.

With council approval, Shockley said organizers could begin booking performers and launching publicity campaigns.

Tentatively budgeted to cost about $265,000, organizers have pledged to contribute at least $45,000. The venue costs are estimated at $67,000, with marketing costs of roughly $35,000. Musical acts and athletes are budgeted at around $127,000.

“They need that lead time to accomplish the goals and to get started with you guys as well,” he said.

Early plans call for three music venues, including the beach and convention center, managed by the city, in addition to 10 local private events.

Attendance of at least 10,000 is anticipated, with a potential for 2,000 lodging room nights over three days.

Tourism and Marketing Director Donna Abbott said the advisory board closely vetted all aspects of the proposal.

“They didn’t just rubber-stamp it,” she said. “Brad and Salty explained it as … South by Southwest meets the Dew Tour. It’s kind of an unique Ocean City event.”

When Giblin was introduced to the equation, being unfamiliar with his background, Abbott found that he had impressive music festival credentials.

“He has extensive experience working with big acts with sound, lighting and stage systems,” she said. “He has the materials and the infrastructure to be able to come in and set up a concert stage on the beach, or anywhere for that matter.”

For the past three years, Giblin has managed sound and lighting for the musical acts performing at the Delaware State Fair.

“The general manager from the Delaware State Fair gave a glowing reference,” she said. “I think he is the key to having a successful music event.”

Councilman Tony DeLuca asked what level of funding the Tourism Advisory Board has available.

Abbott said $267,000 is left in the current fiscal year budget, with $300,000 pending approval for inclusion in the fiscal 2019 budget, which goes into effect July 1.

Councilman Dennis Dare asked what locations, besides the beach and convention center, are being considered for musical acts.

Abbott said Northside Park or the Ocean Bowl Skate Park are among the options being discussed.

“For a long-term effort, it could expand beyond that,” she said. “Some of the business community is interested in … terms of having music in their own venues in the evening so we can kind of spread this out.”

Contingent on council approval, more detailed plans would be forthcoming in several weeks, Abbott said.

Shockley said while minimal information is bound to elicit innumerable questions, most concerns would be addressed as plans are cemented.

“It needs to get into the MOU process …  and I think a lot will become clearer as we move forward,” he said.

“We’re using our main asset, which is the beach and the Boardwalk, and the goodness of Ocean City to pull off an event.”

Following unanimous council approval, Mayor Rick Meehan lauded Hoffman and Selt for bringing Giblin on board as a partner in this ambitious venture.

“When you put all three of these gentleman together, I think they have the ability to put on the type of event we’re looking for,” he said.

“This really has substance … and has the earmarking’s of a successful event.”

Hoffman later said he began to formulate an idea for an extreme sports and music four years ago after the Dew Tour departed.

Hoping to foster collaborative economic development, Hoffman collected signatures of support from roughly 60 businesses.

“The town, businesses and stakeholders need to work together,” he said.

Hoffman envisions the event spreading across town like jellyfish tentacles, with shows in numerous private venues, in addition to large stage attractions.

Although professional and local athletes from the surf and skateboarding realms will be on hand, Hoffman said he wants family members of all ages to be participants in some of the activities rather than just spectators.

“Kids can meet top athletes and do their own thing,” he said. “We plan on having a family fitness zone on the beach.”

Hoffman said the intent is to create a long-term event with localized elements that attracts a wide audience.

“Now the wheels are in motion,” he said. “We want to come out of the gates as a national festival.”

 

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