Sunfest is not as exciting as it once was for many resort residents, who have gone to the end-of-summer festival so many times over the past five decades that they know what to expect long before they get there.
This sameness is not a bad thing necessarily, as the event continues to thrive with the support of visitors who time their annual pilgrimages to the beach to coincide with the raising of the big top tents and the ascent of aromas from banks of deep fryers and flat top grills.
In that respect, Sunfest is the family sedan of Ocean City’s special events. From the visitor’s perspective, it’s reliably comfortable and comfortably reliable.
But even as the old sedan continues on mile after mile, a new paint job and a few modifications wouldn’t hurt.
That’s what Ocean City’s special events and tourism departments will begin to do with this fall’s edition of Sunfest, which will be one of the first times in the event’s long history that it will take place in the fall rather than the final days of summer.
The rearrangement of the layout of stages and vendors will freshen up the look without altering the content. Going with all free concerts throughout the daily cycle and eliminating the paid nightly concerts might also make the evening shift more attractive to more people (why go at night if you don’t have a ticket for the main event?).
But the best move might be merging OCtoberfest and its more whimsical offerings with Sunfest, thus spreading the celebration out beyond the inlet parking lot.
The total fun of the pumpkin races and dog parades of OCtoberfest never quite drew the audiences they deserved because of the significantly smaller crowds in town at the time.
This merger changes all that and makes Sunfest more fun for those who haven’t been attending because they have seen it all over the years.
With the cosmetic changes and a little something extra under the hood, this old sedan might just shift into a higher gear.