Springfest on tap in Ocean City


The annual Springfest festival, which welcomes in spring and celebrates the start of summer, has taken over the Ocean City (Md.) Inlet parking lot this weekend with entertainment, arts, crafts and food. Don’t drive when you can park and ride for $2

Visitors planning a trip to Springfest this weekend are being encouraged by Ocean City officials to take the resort’s transit system to get around town.

Don’t drive when you can park and ride for $2
Visitors planning a trip to Springfest this weekend are being encouraged by Ocean City officials to take the resort’s transit system to get around town.

With Springfest taking over the Ocean City Inlet parking lot, parking will be limited downtown, as parking in the inlet lot will be restricted to vendors only.

For a $2 fare, Ocean City offers a ride-all-day pass that lets visitors ride the bus, getting on and off as often as they like. There will be extra buses in use during the festival and they will pick up riders at any bus stop on Coastal Highway.

Satellite parking areas are also available with the Park and Ride Shuttle Services. Shuttle buses will operate from the Ocean City Park & Ride just off Route 50 in West Ocean City. Parking is free and the bus fare to the downtown transit center is $1, good for all-day use.

Additional Park and Ride locations are at the Presbyterian Church on 13th Street, the Public Safety Building on 65th Street, Ocean Plaza Mall on 94th Street, the municipal parking lot on 100th Street, Gold Coast Mall on 115th Street, and Northside Park on 125th Street (walk to 125th Street bus stop on Coastal Highway). Parking is free at these locations.

Bus passengers will be dropped off at the Transit Center on South Division Street, just a walk across the Boardwalk to Springfest.

The Boardwalk train will also offer service daily. The cost of the train ride is $2.50 per person, one-way. The train will bring riders directly to the Springfest grounds and runs from 10 a.m. to midnight. Children under 42 inches in height ride free. Those requiring special assistance with handicapped transportation should call (410) 723-1607.

With Springfest taking over the Ocean City Inlet parking lot, parking will be limited downtown, as parking in the inlet lot will be restricted to vendors only.

For a $2 fare, Ocean City offers a ride-all-day pass that lets visitors ride the bus, getting on and off as often as they like. There will be extra buses in use during the festival and they will pick up riders at any bus stop on Coastal Highway.

Satellite parking areas are also available with the Park and Ride Shuttle Services. Shuttle buses will operate from the Ocean City Park & Ride just off Route 50 in West Ocean City. Parking is free and the bus fare to the downtown transit center is $1, good for all-day use.

Additional Park and Ride locations are at the Presbyterian Church on 13th Street, the Public Safety Building on 65th Street, Ocean Plaza Mall on 94th Street, the municipal parking lot on 100th Street, Gold Coast Mall on 115th Street, and Northside Park on 125th Street (walk to 125th Street bus stop on Coastal Highway). Parking is free at these locations.

Bus passengers will be dropped off at the Transit Center on South Division Street, just a walk across the Boardwalk to Springfest.

The Boardwalk train will also offer service daily. The cost of the train ride is $2.50 per person, one-way. The train will bring riders directly to the Springfest grounds and runs from 10 a.m. to midnight. Children under 42 inches in height ride free. Those requiring special assistance with handicapped transportation should call (410) 723-1607.

This is the 16th year for Springfest. The four-day festival that began when Ocean City Councilman Jim Hall suggested a spring party to start the season, since there was already Sunfest (in September) that marked the end of the summer season.

After a somewhat soggy start (it led to a local joke about “Rainfest”), Springfest blossomed into maturity and now is only slightly smaller than Sunfest, with 97,569 people attending last year.

Just this April, Sunshine Artist: America’s Premiere Show and Festival Magazine, rated Springfest 27th on a list of 200 top festivals in the United States.

Veronica Donaldson, advertising and marketing manager for Ocean City’s Special Events division, said Springfest crowds continue to increase, entertainment ticket sales are climbing and the vendors are doing well.

Under the big-top tents this weekend will be 184 artisans, and 60 commercial and gourmet food vendors. Some 30 food and drink vendors will be dishing up fare unique to Eastern Shore, traditional festival food and more exotic edibles.

One way in which city government, the event’s sponsor, works to keep up the quality of the food and arts and crafts is by selecting each vendor through a jury process.

Springfest is for the entire family, and there will be a variety of activities and entertainment throughout the weekend. Some of what is available for children includes crafts, sand art, candle art, temporary and Henna tattoos, face painting, bouncing around in Xtreme Events interactive inflatables on the beach and a rock climbing wall. Lollipop the Clown will stroll the festival from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Fair visitors can also get palm and tarot card readings or sample some fun potions, get caricatures drawn and have their hair braided or wrapped in colorful strings and beads.

In addition to the arts, crafts, food and activities, Springfest is filled with musical entertainment, with sounds ranging from big band to country, to rock’n’roll.

Admission is free to the four-day event, while tickets are required for headline acts: The Charlie Daniels Band on Friday, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on Saturday. Both shows begin at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $15 to $35. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth on the Springfest grounds.