(Feb. 19, 2021) With the constant ebb and flow of restrictions surrounding covid-19, organizers of Ocean City’s Springfest plan to push forward with a modified version of the event in May, which will mark the 30th anniversary of the popular festival.

Springfest

Ocean City plans to host the 30th annual Springfest celebration in May, though officials expect crowds to be lighter than normal because of a modified version of the festival due to the pandemic.

Ocean City Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller presented his plans for Springfest to City Council members on Tuesday, prefacing his PowerPoint presentation with a suggestion that things will more than likely change by the start of the event, which takes place from May 6-9.

“This event ... is in a constant state of flux,” he said.

Miller added that he has been in constant communication with the Worcester County Health Department regarding the  changing of rules.

Springfest was scheduled to take place in 2020 but was canceled because of covid. In 2019, the festival brought in 120,106 people, compared to the 137,570 people who attended the 2018. In past years, the festival attracted national recording artists like Styx as well as bands like the Sublime tribute band Badfish, and Ballyhoo!, a reggae band from Aberdeen, Maryland.

This year, Miller said, no national ticketed acts will be performing, and instead, all performances will be free and only 250 people will be permitted to watch in front of the stage. The festival will also only have one stage on the sand for artists to perform, whereas in past years, performances were also held at an entertainment tent.

A food tent will be available for individuals to walk up and purchase something to eat, though they will not be allowed to walk around with the food at the festival. Instead, people will be required to get the food and sit down to consume it. There are discussions regarding standing counter-height tables because they do not follow guidelines to sit down and eat. But what the tables do allow for is a faster turnover rate at tables because people will be less likely to stand around after they eat, Miller said.

The State of Maryland is requiring that people social distance and wear face masks throughout the event’s footprint. Organizers also plan to leave the north end of the food tent open so it will not be an enclosed structure.

The festival is expected to have a beer garden with four vendors and a midway of 45 vendors, Miller said, though state mandates on out-of-state travel may deter vendors from attending.

Miller added that there will be staff on hand to conduct daily health checks on people and provide security.

With the addition of staffing for covid protocols, a decrease in the budgeted tent rental, removal of custom stage lighting because shows will not go past 8 p.m., the loss of national headline acts, fewer live performances, and an increased cost for event signage telling people to social distance, Miller said he expects there to be an approximate decrease in expenses, from $377,000 to $204,000, or $173,000.

Additionally, he expects to see a decrease in vendors, a loss of three-day concert-ticket sale revenue, a drop in alcohol and merchandise sales, and less money from sponsors, amounting to another $222,155 decrease in revenue from the budgeted $448,825.

Still, organizers are pushing to have the festival because it is its 30th anniversary.

City Council members unanimously voted to approve the layout and budget of the festival.

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