NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyWest Palm Beach


SunFest organizers aiming for great success, but keeping close eye on weekend weather

Posted at 5:29 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 05:23:48-04

SunFest is the largest festival in Palm Beach County which equates to millions of dollars for our local economy. The festival is growing and some want to see it become the largest in South Florida, rain or shine.

And behind the scenes there are many steps being taken to make sure it stays a big money-maker.

RELATED: Your guide to 2019 SunFest music acts

Joshua Bratchett lives in Miami but plans to take advantage of Brightline, soon to be Virgin Trains USA, to get to West Palm Beach for SunFest this week.

“It’s very convenient, it’s very easy to board in Miami to get back up to West Palm Beach and vice versa going back down to Miami from Palm Beach it’s very easy,” said Bratchett. “It’s very upscale — it’s like being in first-class as far as the airlines go.”

To accommodate attendees like Bratchett, Virgin Trains is offering extended late-night trains departing from West Palm Beach. A Brightline train will depart West Palm Beach at 11 p.m. on Thursday. A late-night train will depart West Palm Beach Friday and Saturday at 11:59 p.m. Sunday's train departs at 11 p.m.

There is also a promotion code — SUNFEST9 — for 25 percent off tickets.

”Brightline takes SunFest to the next level,” said Dennis Grady, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.

A $15 million, four-day economic boost for the city, Grady says, and easier access for Broward and Miami-Dade County visitors. He hopes it eventually becomes designated the largest regional festival in the Miami metropolitan area.

“So, the population increase, a rising tide raises all boats,” he said.

But rain could slow the tide as experienced last year.

”It has yes, absolutely it has,” said Melissa Sullivan, SunFest marketing manager. “Last year we had a tropical depression sitting out there.”

Sullivan estimates poor weather took a 25 percent cut to attendance numbers. For nearby businesses, it’s a risk in Florida they’re supportive of rain or shine.

“We’re one of the few establishments that you can eat inside and outside, so when the rain comes we get flooded,” said Anthony Ramirez, employee of West Palm’s Paneterie Cafe.

SunFest organizers say they do have contingency plans in place for the weather, for safety reasons. Otherwise they expect 130,000 people to attend this year’s festival.