Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Myrtle Beach tradition has a lot riding on it this year.
The 59th annual Sun Fun Festival kicked off Friday at the Grand Park at Market Common. Organizers say they saw about 40,000 people last year and are expecting a similar turnout this year, weather permitting.
Just across from Grand Park, dozens of local businesses are waiting with open doors. Hoping some of the festival-goers will walk in.
"We are hopeful and we are confident at the same time that we will get some overflow from that over here," said Sam Abushakra, who owns What's in Store at the Market Common.
Last month JP Morgan Chase, the bank holding the Market Common Mortgage, foreclosed on the property. Kelly Hoagland, who owns the Little Shop of Flowers, says the Sun Fun Festival will help to bring a positive light to the entire area.
"Of course we're always hoping to do better out here, and there's a lot of negative light I feel like on the Market Common," said Hoagland. "But really I feel like everyone's working hard and taking it day by day. I just think we're all getting busier and I think everyone's seen that. It's really looking up, and I think it's a good thing."
Some business owners are even going out of their way to attract visitors during the festival.
Rick Roff has extended the hours at his Tee Time Café to stay open late.
"The more people that are walking around and looking at the area, the more exposure," said Roff. "If they come from one event on the weekend, maybe the next event they come to, they'll remember, hey let's go over to those shops."
The Sun Fun Festival will continue on Saturday at 10 a.m. and events will include free celebrity meet and greets, band performances, and a Kid's Zone for younger children.
Celebrities will include former Professional Wrestler Rik Flair and Booboo Stewart from The Twilight Series. There will be band performances on the Main Stage throughout the day and National Recording Artist Uncle Kracker will wrap up the evening with a free performance.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says the concert kicks off a number of concerts and family-friendly events throughout the summer.
The Sun Fun Festival will feature live entertainment, celebrity meet-and-greets, H2X Racing's 2010 Tour of personal watercraft racing and demonstrations on Grand Park Lake, food and arts/crafts vendors, fireworks, and the Miss Sun Fun/Miss Sun Fun Teen pageant, to name a few.
Other scheduled events include:
- Celebrity meet and greets – Sterling Knight, "Chad" on Disney's Sonny with a Chance, Kim Zimmer, "Reva" on CBS' Guiding Light, and Booboo Stewart, "Seth" in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The meet and greets are free to the public.
- Kids Zone Games, June 5 – Inflatable rides, games and more. Free to the public.
- H2X Racing's APBA National Jet Ski Championships, beachfront between Damon's Grill (2985 S. Ocean Blvd.) and Springmaid Beach Resort (3200 S. Ocean Blvd.), June 4-6 – Personal watercraft racing and freestyle competition as part of the American Power Boat Association's national tour. Competition free to spectators.
- 2011 Miss Sun Fun and Miss Sun Fun Teen Pageant, Socastee High School, May 30 – A Myrtle Beach tradition, the pageants began in 1960 to symbolize one of the largest annual festivals in the Carolinas. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Admission is $15.
- Sun Fun Beach Run, North Myrtle Beach, June 5 – Take your pick of a 5K run/walk or a one-mile fun run sponsored by the MBACC and city of North Myrtle Beach in cooperation with the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and North Myrtle Beach Recreation Department. Free.
- Sun Fun Festival Fireworks Extravaganza, June 5 – Free.
The festival will wrap up at 9:30 p.m. Saturday night with a fireworks show.
For more information, visit SunFunFestival.com or call 843-626-7444/800-356-3016.