The Phillie Phanatic will return to Funfest on Sunday, Sept. 23.

Funfest, by nature of its name, certainly sounds like it is already fun. But this year, organizers behind the annual two-day Margate festival decided to up the fun factor with more games, music, crafters and a larger, interactive children's area that offers its own live entertainment spanning six bayside blocks from Decatur to Coolidge avenues.

"We changed up the music, changed up the attractions, added lots of new crafters," says Ed Berger, president of the Margate Business Association. "All of the attractions for the kids are new this year. We replaced last year's games with attractions for the kids that they can actually participate in … a cup and saucer ride, inflatables, human mazes, rock climbing walls, bungee poles. It's going to make the fairgrounds look super."

The 12th annual Margate Funfest runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept 30. Admission is free, and free shuttles will provide pick-up and drop-off service throughout both days along both Ventnor and Amherst avenues.

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The weekend includes an appearance from the Phillie Phanatic from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday, as well as a juried fine arts and craft show beginning 1 p.m. Sunday.

"We really wanted to take Funfest to the next level," Berger says. "We still have plenty of super stuff for them to do. Miss New Jersey is coming this year. We have a stage entirely dedicated to kids' entertainment, which is wonderful, as well as our main stage, which will play nonstop music."

New crafters also are participating this year, Berger says. Visitors will find everything from handmade glass beads and jewelry to clothing, accessories, original photography and artwork and handmade dog treats.

"We're one of the few remaining two-day craft shows around," Berger says.

An eclectic music lineup is once again on the schedule, ranging from blues to rock, country and reggae. Participating bands include The Groove, Bubba Mac Blues Band, Sensamotion and The Mighty Parrot (a Jimmy Buffet tribute band).

"The one thing we found about Margate … is there's got to be something for everybody," Berger says. "Everybody loves to get out with their family, everybody loves music. So if you're into reggae, we've got reggae. We've got some names there that you're going to recognize. So it's a little bit of something for anyone. We're trying to bring the 12th annual event along."

This year's Funfest 50/50 raffle will include an automatic entry for a drawing to win tickets to see Rush at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Oct. 12, courtesy of 100.7-FM WZXL.

Proceeds from Funfest will benefit Gilda's Club of South Jersey, the Margate Business Association Daniel and Maria Walters Scholarship Fund and the MBA Children's Scholarship fund, which benefits Margate school children in need.

Last year's Funfest went on as scheduled, despite a rainy weekend. This year, organizers hope the weather is in their favor. So far, the forecast predicts a cool, breezy weekend, Berger says.

"On a good Funfest weekend, with good weather, we can do 35,000 people over two days," Berger says.


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