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Thousands of people flocked to the Delaware beaches and Ocean City to participate in September and October festivals this year, and most businesses reported year-over-year growth.

Events like Rehoboth's Sea Witch Festival, Ocean City's Bikefest and OCtoberfest are big draws for shoulder season business. 

"September and October visitation is higher than May and June," said Carol Everhart, president and CEO of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce. "It is not what perception is, but that’s the reality."

The shoulder season, which is loosely defined as after Labor Day into early November, continues to grow because of the good weather, and the sheer number of events offered during the fall.

Another reason for the increase is because students typically don't get out of school until late June, Everhart said, and people are more apt to come in September and October because there is more to do than in June and May.

"And September and October are great weather months," she added.

But sometimes the good weather and the plethora of things to do can be both a blessing and a curse for beach businesses.

Sea Witch, Everhart said, draws in as many people as the Fourth of July weekend does.

However, the good weather in September and October put a damper on some businesses.

Bee Lindzey, owner of Rehoboth Beach Toy and Kite Company, said with the exception of Sea Witch weekend, the weather was too nice, particularly in October.

And when the weather is too nice, it detracts people from shopping, he added.

"Shoulder season is 100 percent dependent on weather, and that’s what gets people down here," he said. "When it is 60 degrees they will shop in town, but when it’s in the mid-70s — they're on the beach."

He said the shoulder season in 2016 was their best, and it was hard to match it this year.

September was strong, he said, but it was hard to match last year's numbers due to the Sea Witch events being canceled on Sunday.

READ MORE: Rehoboth Beach considers raising rental tax

Other Rehoboth Beach businesses, though, are reporting strong numbers.

The shoulder season has been steady, said Lisa Breedlove, manager at Summerhouse.

"It is still a good time of the year for us, not as busy as it is in the summer, but as soon as the meters go off the locals come in," she said.

To keep sales up, Summerhouse will offer specials, such as carrying over half-price burger night from the summer and Taco Tuesday.

For them, the Sea Witch Festival is a good opportunity to recapture some of the sales lost during the summer.

"It is much like a weekend in the summer," Breedlove said. "The level of sales are equal to a weekend in the summer. We certainly staff it like a weekend in the summer."

But the special events held during the shoulder season don't always translate to money in business' pockets.

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Larry Shockley, general manager of Old Pro Golf on 68th Street in Ocean City, said this year was unique.

Sometimes, people will come to Old Pro Golf as part of their events, Shockley said, but places like Old Pro Golf are seen as just places to go if participants get some down time.

"Some people come (to Ocean City) just to see the cars or the event itself," he said. "Here, we have families coming. It's the same thing. Some people hit and miss it. They will look at the calendar of events and if they are not here for the event, it's like why did I come?"

These special events and good weather do translate into sales for other businesses in Ocean City, though.

Farther up Coastal Highway is Dumser's on 123rd Street.

For them, the shoulder season has been good, said manager Tom Coutu.

"The weather has been nice," he said. "And I think that has helped a lot."

There is an uptick of business during events such as Cruisin', he said, and the special events in Ocean City during the shoulder season because they are able to boost his sales.

READ MORE: After H2Oi, no Cruisin' in Ocean City?

Businesses say these events in the shoulder season are crucial for continuing to bring in customers, even when the busy days of summer are in the past.

However, in Ocean City, both Shockley and Coutu said if any of these events are taken away, like what is being discussed by the Ocean City Town Council, it would be detrimental for their business.

"I am just hoping they somehow find a way to have the events but make it equal for everybody," Shockley said. "I know it's hard to do, considering the cars and stuff, whatever it is, to get it equal for everyone, to have businesses enjoy the event or the people that work and live here can go to the event and also enjoy their days and their work."

If the events are canceled, it would have a negative effect on not only his business but the whole town, Coutu said.

Events are good for the town, he said, because they bring business, people and money to the seaside resort.

"They bring a lot of money into town, a lot of rooms and they all eat out," he said. "And they spend a lot of money in the restaurants."

On Twitter @hughesg19

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