SunFest is just around the corner and the band line up is generating a lot of buzz and excitement.
It's an eclectic selection, from Blink 182 to Weezer, Macklemore and Snoop Dog. There's even some big names for fans of the 80s.
“We’ve got everything from what the young people are listening to with electronic dance music, to some of the throw back music with Nightranger and Loverboy," said Melissa Sullivan, marketing manager for SunFest. “SunFest has been investing a great deal in entertainment so we’ve seen the rise of really strong headliners. And this year is no different."
Fifty bands will take to three stages over the course of five days from May 3 to May 7. Sullivan walked us through the process of picking the line up, a process that started in June of last year.
“Who’s available? Who’s even touring? People wonder why we can’t bring somebody in — they might be in Europe. They might not be able to get to Florida so there’s a lot of components that go into it," said Sullivan. "We respect and value the investment that our fans make so if we can bring someone, we always look at it -- but we really want to bring someone that they will enjoying seeing.”
Some country music fans wonder why no honky tonk for a second straight year. Sullivan says it's not simple.
“Music is really subjective and we don’t always make everyone happy. But we try and book the best available entertainment. And for us — in terms of what people’s expectations are for country, that’s just not always available to us," she said. "Sometimes it’s a great success like when we had Big and Rich a number of years ago, but sometimes it doesn’t see the response. But I think that gets back to the best value."
Organizers say the demand for country artists is especially high around May, with the Tortuga Country Festival in Fort Lauderdale just two weeks prior. There's also the Mega Ticket country music series at Perfect Vodka Amphitheater in West Palm Beach this summer.
“We’ve had some hit and miss with country at SunFest, we try and we dabble in it," Sullivan added. "Sometimes it can be expensive, sometimes they’re already going to the amphitheater and other locations in South Florida."
As far as what's new, expect a fun and different food setup this year.
“Changing one up to be like a diner from the 1950s feel -- to a fueling station for food on the go. So expect to see huge changes in those atmospheres and the food menus," said Sullivan.
The children’s area will look different, too, transforming into a family lounge with hammocks, wine tasting and a sand pit.
“Because of the fact that we’re 35 years old, we have to constantly reinvent ourselves. Stay new, stay fresh," Sullivan added.
The art portion of the festival, including the juried art show, will be revamped as well.
“The art district is new this year and will be an interactive place," said Sullivan. "Fewer vendors, some nonprofit organizations like the art center and ARC that are doing some participatory art so our patrons will be a part of the art process.”
West Palm Beach mayor Jeri Muoio said the city is prepared to welcome thousands to the city. About 30 percent of the attendees come from outside Palm Beach County, with thousands of attendees from all 50 states and dozens of countries around the world.
“It’s one of the premiere music festivals in the country," she said. “We have people from all over the country, coming to West Palm Beach to enjoy the music.”
When it comes to traffic, Muoio said they’re working with police to keep things moving smoothly.
“Our police are experts on this kind of thing — it’s been going on for a number of years," she said.
And the city and festival organizers will also be keeping an eye on whether president trump’s regular visits to Mar-a-Lago could throw a wrench in traffic plans.
“We’ll keep an eye on that obviously, it’s too early to tell if there will be an implication for us," said Sullivan.
Weezer will kick off the opening night on May 3 with Blink 182 performing on the last day, May 7. A SunFest smartphone, powered by Ford, will launch soon with schedules, parking information and other tips to help you navigate the festival.
If you want to get tickets, Sullivan said now is the best time to buy since prices will be going up in two days. To buy your ticket, click here.