CUMBERLAND — More locals bought tickets to this year’s DelFest than any other year in the event’s history.
“Local people are actually now a very, very large portion of those who purchase advanced tickets to DelFest,” Dave Williams, of the public relations firm McClarran and Williams in Cumberland, said.
“So there’s a strong local component to DelFest attendance.”
Williams said that wasn’t always the case.
Tickets purchased by Allegany County residents have increased as much as three-fold since 2008 — the first year of the event.
“More and more tickets every year are slowly being purchased locally,” Williams said.
DelFest attendance has grown from about 3,500 music fans daily in 2008 to the estimated 10,000 expected on any given day this year. Williams said local publicity, charitable giving by the McCoury family to local nonprofits through the DelFest Foundation and a growing sense of pride the event instills in residents have all contributed to more locals buying tickets to the four-day festival.
“As we got more and more local publicity, and even the Pale Ale Army (an advocacy group formed to support the festival) and things like that, it got people intrigued about (DelFest),” he said.
The foundation, a group organized by the McCoury family with funds from raffles and alcohol sales at the festival, has given more than $1 million to groups like the Western Maryland Food Bank and Jane’s Place.
“The DelFest Foundation is purely charitable. What they do is an amazing thing,” Williams said, “but if you give away 50,000 dollars to local charities year after year, the people who support those charities also become loyal to you.”
Williams said local pride stemming from DelFest’s all-star lineup is also on the rise. Locals see DelFest as a time to invite friends and relatives to the area and “show off” their hometown, he said.
“How many people do you know that talk about ‘Well, we’re getting together and we’re going to DelFest,’ Williams said. “I absolutely hear it and we see it in the numbers.”
Williams’ son Nick is a 2001 Bishop Walsh graduate who has worked in the medical field in Florida for more than a decade. Only visiting Cumberland about every other year, Nick will be in town for this year’s festival.
“It’s like our Christmas,” Williams said. “Some families do Easter or Thanksgiving, we do DelFest.”
The McCoury family has become part of the community, Williams said.
“It’s not just that (the McCourys) are charitable here and that they are making an economic contribution here, it’s not just that they are nice people, but they have become a huge part of our community’s life.”