Sweet notes for Springfest Smothers Brothers highlight a musical mixed bag

May 02, 1993|By Audrey Haar | Audrey Haar,Staff Writer

If pleasant ocean breezes aren't enough to lure you to the seashore in early May, the town of Ocean City has an added incentive: Springfest.

To help bolster the beach's allure, town organizers have lined up big-name performers to appear Thursday to Sunday at the annual festival at the inlet.

Success "depends on the weather and bringing in name entertainment to bring in the people," says Martha O. Clements, spokeswoman for the Ocean City Convention and Tourism Bureau.

Topping the bill this year are the Smothers Brothers, who will perform their comedy and singing act on the main stage at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Another big-name draw to the festival is big band leader and jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson, probably best known outside of jazz circles for the "Gonna Fly Now" theme from the movie "Rocky," will be appearing with his Big Bop Nouveau Band at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Country music fans can look forward to seeing Kathy Mattea perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Ms. Mattea won a Grammy in 1991 for "Where've You Been" and was named female vocalist of the year by the Country Music Association.

Other main stage entertainers include singer B. J. Thomas, famous for the hit song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," country singers Cleve Francis and Joy White, and the country band Dixiana. Performing several times throughout the festival will be the bands SH-BOOM, who play upbeat rock and roll, and the Hard Travelers, who perform favorites from the '60s along with original songs. And Sunday afternoon, the Maryland Army National Guard Band will make an appearance.

Local acts will be featured in a smaller gazebo area -- a new addition to the festival -- while the bigger names will appear on the main stage, which has 2,000 seats.

This year, strolling entertainers at the inlet have a lot of surprises for fair-goers, says David Geyer of Pedestal Productions in Baltimore. "It's a big hoopla at the beginning of the season," he says.

At the center of all the activities will be a living Statue of Liberty in full regalia. "She is all green to her toes," he says.

Parading though the fair each day will be four 12-foot-tall Mardi Gras-type puppets colorfully dressed as President Clinton, King Neptune, Mother Nature and, appropriate for a beach resort, a Sun God.

In a conflict staged in the style of Italian commedia dell'arte, characters Dragonella and Lumpinella will battle out their differences in their own gibberish language. And then there is a caricaturist who can't draw anything but stick figures, a Groucho Marx impersonator on roller skates, a card reader "who knows nothing and tells all," plus jugglers, stilt-walkers and clowns.

vTC Other attractions include food, crafts and sky divers who will parachute onto the beach just below the entertainment area.

Forty members of the Skydiving Center of Greater Washington, DC Inc. hope to break the Maryland free-fall record, which stands at 24 people.

Cindy Gibson, president and co-owner of the California, Md.-based center, says it typically takes 10 to 20 trys to get a formation right. The jumpers will form patterns of concentric rings as they jump from planes.

"It's difficult because you have to have people doing their jobs 100 percent," she says.

Attempts at the state record will take place at two-hour intervals from 11 a.m. until sunset each day of the festival.

Ms. Gibson says it will take two planes to get the group of 40 jumpers to an altitude of 13,000 feet. At that point, each participant must jump exactly on cue. The group then free-falls for about a minute. Then it takes about five minutes to land on the beach, Ms. Gibson says.

Beach-based spectators will see "a really spectacular sight," she adds. "The colors of the parachutes are magnificent.

"It's the kind of thing that once you see people doing it, it does something to you. It is so pretty and the landing is so soft," Ms. Gibson says. So if anyone gets the urge to give jumping a try, for $195 the Skydiving Center will have trained instructors who will take novices for a trial jump.

To see top-notch kite-flying, visit the Mid-Atlantic Stunt Kite Championships, which start at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday near First Street on the beach.

William "Billy" Jones of the Kite Loft stores, who organized the event, says he expects about 125 registrants from all over the country.

Individual and team competitors will fly kites in specified maneuvers, kite movements that are choreographed to music, and participate in a freestyle event in which fliers often theatrically use props and costumes, Mr. Jones says.

Opening the Springfest activities Thursday morning will be a boardwalk parade at 9:30 a.m. featuring Ocean City officials. Trailing behind will be a caravan of about 200 vintage cars and hot rods.

While there will be several car parades during the festival, visitors are invited to see the 500 cars up close at "Crusin' OC" headquarters, on the Ocean City Convention Center parking lot at 40th Street on Coastal Highway.

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