Sun Fun Festival returns to Myrtle Beach - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Sun Fun Festival returns to Myrtle Beach

Plyler Park at sunrise.  The Sun Fun Festival will be here Friday through Sunday this weekend. Plyler Park at sunrise. The Sun Fun Festival will be here Friday through Sunday this weekend.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Nostalgia can stir up a lot of emotions. That's one of the main reasons a famous Myrtle Beach festival is coming back to downtown after a five-year absence.

The Chamber of Commerce put on the Sun Fun Festival until the chamber decided there just wasn't enough money to keep going.  In February, the Oceanfront Merchants Association announced its return to Plyler Park in downtown Myrtle Beach. 

Helped along by a key OMA member, The Gay Dolphin will be the main sponsor of the Sun Fun Festival.  The landmark Myrtle Beach shop has been around for years and the owner's father ran the Sun Fun Festival.  Owner Buzz Plyler says he's taken over about 90 percent of the costs this year to bring it back to town.  When the chamber ran the event, it cost about $100,000. 

“The tourists who would come in this store would ask about Sun Fun, ask why we didn’t have it anymore and they were very nostalgic about it. They wanted it back.  They were sentimentally attached to it, so we’re bringing it back now," Plyler said.

The Sun Fun Festival was last held in 2010 at Market Common.  The location didn't bring the usual numbers to the event, Plyler says.

Now the budget is less than $28,000.  Organizers cut entertainment spending, but there will still be shag bands, dancing, kids activities and a parade - just not much food. Plyler hopes this will help area businesses pick up from last weekend. He says business around him during Bikefest was down 50 percent.

 "People here have just 100 days of the season to make a living.  They need every day.  We hope the people will come earlier, there will be more room nights booked, more meals eaten, more souvenirs bought," Plyler said.  He considers Sun Fun Festival the official kick-off to summer.

Sun Fun plans to help local charities out this year.  The Horry County Special Olympics will have a booth at the festival and try to increase the organization's funds since the money in the pot isn't as high as usual.  

When OMA decided to cancel the annual St. Patrick's Day Festival, locals weren't the only ones who lost.  Erik Kearney is the area director for the Special Olympics. He said the games lost anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000 without being able to sell beer and t-shirts at the St. Patrick's Day event.

He said right now, the group's participation in Oktoberfest is also up in the air.  If that's canceled too, the local Special Olympics will lose about $25,000 of their usual profit from just those two events.  Kearney says the profit loss put the group in a bit of a hole, but sponsors helped out. 

He says he hopes to make $2,000 to $3,000 from Sun Fun, since it's new for them.  Sun Fun organizers realized they needed the help.

"Horry County Special Olympics was extremely impacted by not having St. Patrick's Day downtown on Ocean Boulevard.  So we're trying to use Sun Fun as an opportunity for them to recoup some of the lost revenue that they depend on each year for their operating budget," the Gay Dolphin manager and Sun Fun Festival organizer Michelle Kerscher said.

Kearney said the Special Olympics runs on an annual budget anywhere from $60,000 to $70,000. This year will be different for the organization, because they don't usually do things during the summer, but have to, to make up for those March losses. Their booth will be set up at Plyler Park when the Sun Fun Festival kicks off.

The festival started in the 1950's with a beauty pageant, bikini contest, jello jump and other events you wouldn't see every day.  Event organizers say they're getting a lot of support for the return and the festival is a tradition guests hope to continue with their families. Organizers say they hope to maybe bring back a few of the original contests, but this year the festival will feature the Army's plane-jumping Golden Knights, a parade, live music, shag dance lessons, and kids activities.

The 60th Sun Fun Festival will start Friday at 6:45 p.m. at Plyler Park.  The park is located at the end of Mr. Joe White Avenue and North Ocean Boulevard, by the Sky Wheel.

If you want to find out more head over the Sun Fun Festival's Facebook page through our live links tab on WMBFNews.com.  You can also find a link for the festival's website and Facebook there for event details and times.

The Sun Fun Festival is happening in collaboration with the Salt Games.  The Salt Games will be about a block away, kicking off Saturday morning.

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