- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The sun managed to shine long enough for the second annual Southern Maryland Sun & Music Festival to attract a crowd over the weekend.
The stages were set for musicians to play, and vendors lined up as friends and families flocked to the fun in support of local charities at the Calvert County Fairgrounds both Saturday and Sunday. Organizations and groups benefitting from the event included Calvert Hospice, Project ECHO, Hunter’s Heroes Inc., the Calvert Animal Welfare League, Marines Helping Marines and the Southern Maryland Vegan and Vegetarian Group.
Festival activities ran all day and included a poker run, hot air balloon rides, corn hole and a Kid’s Zone. While these may have been enough to entice any family, many people said they came for the music.
Local bands and performers were recruited to perform throughout the weekend, most of which donated their time to the festival. Based in St. Mary’s County, the band Fortune Favors the Brave didn’t see a downside in contributing to an event with “beer, food, good fun and a good cause,” said lead singer Aubrey Joyce.
Savannah Parsons of Solomons came out Sunday with her two daughters, Brayden and Marley Kirk, and spent most of the day in front of center stage.
“We definitely came to see the Kelly Bell Band,” she said.
The crowd was on its feet dancing as soon as the Baltimore blues band took to the stage. “If you give us energy, we will be here all damn night,” lead singer Kelly Bell said.
Last summer, the Spirits in the Sky Benefit LLC put together the first festival under the mission to support local charities of Southern Maryland. While the group made many improvements to this year’s fundraiser, such as moving it from July to June to avoid the heat, adding the Kid’s Zone and hot air balloon rides and changing the setup to make it a “friendlier” space, the primary goal remained the same, according to event coordinator Jimmy Zirakian.
Hunter’s Heroes was one of the returning charities that participated in the weekend’s activities to raise awareness about its cause against childhood cancer.
“The vibe is really positive,” co-founder of Hunter’s Heroes Dawn Barrett said. “There’s a lot of parents and kids; it’s a family-fun event.”
After last year’s festival, many families said they would have liked to see more activities to involve the kids, Zirakian said. In turn, the event committee decided to put a Kid’s Zone in place. It allowed Hunter’s Heroes to run the activities and receive the admissions costs as its own proceeds.
Each charity that was involved fulfilled similar functions. The money Project ECHO received was due to the small fee it charged for parking Saturday. In return, Project ECHO volunteers directed traffic at the fairgrounds, Zirakian said.
Zirakian said ticket sales are not making enough money yet to give substantial support to the local charities. Therefore, the event organizers incorporate the organizations in other ways to help raise funds.
“It is a great opportunity for everybody,” Zirakian said. “We wanted to get everyone involved.”
While last year’s event actually lost money, Zirakian said he hoped to break even Saturday and make a profit Sunday, and estimated the festival had about 1,500 total attendees.
Those in charge are looking for more ways for the festival to evolve next summer, he said.
To learn more about the festival or Spirits in the Sky Benefit LLC, go to http://somdsunmusicfest.org.