Musician Kenny G performs on the waterfront stage at SunFest 99. Photo: C.J. Walker
Florida's largest music and art festival takes
place annually in the spring along the waterfront in West Palm
Beach. SunFest began in 1983 by a group of local volunteers
who wanted to create a unique community celebration. They
hoped the festival would become a signature event for the area
and that it would extend the tourist season, thus improving
the local economy. The festival has grown from attracting
135,000 attendees in 1984 to 315,000 people in 1999. During
its five days in 1997, it generated an economic impact of $16
million, and room revenue of $1 million.
SunFest's musical programming history exemplifies
artistic excellence by offering diverse styles, from jazz to pop,
classic, new rock, R&B, reggae, gospel, country, world beat and
folk. Artists, which are the main tourist draw for the festival,
have included Santana, B.B. King, Spyro Gyra and Wayne Toups.
SunFest produces multiple events and cultural
experiences throughout the year. By working cooperatively with
other cultural organizations and corporate sponsors, SunFest
projects promote artistic excellence, showcase Florida artists, and
provide arts in education projects for under served populations.
Sunfest has been involved in community outreach projects, such as:
a project that allows talented teens a creative outlet to perform
on stage and to produce a show; and a program that gives more than
1,200 children and adults with disabilities opportunities to
showcase their achievements in the arts. SunFest's "Banner Project"
is a collaborative arts initiative that pairs area nonprofit groups
with local artists to create large scale paintings that are used as
During the festival's first two nights, SunFest's
"Time to Care" Midway gives nonprofit organizations the chance to
host games to raise money for their causes, and other fundraising
Virtually every aspect of SunFest, from pouring soda
to negotiating a contract with Kenny G, is organized by committees
composed of volunteers. These individuals work almost year-round to
ensure both the success of the event and fulfillment of the
organization's community outreach missions. During the festival,
more than 3,000 volunteers work three-to-four-hour shifts.
Documentation comprises a short review of the
festival, a newspaper pull-out on the 1999 festival, the Sunfest
'99 newsletter, the 1998 annual report, and promotional
Originally submitted by: E. Clay Shaw, Jr., Representative (22nd District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.