Riverfest a great success according to city leaders

By Tony E. Windsor

Coordinators of the recent River Fest event are calling it a great success. During the Tuesday, June 25, meeting of Seaford Mayor and Council, Shannon Sapna, Seaford’s Director of Economic Development and a representative of the city’s Main Street Project, told council that the event went off with few problems, but lots of people. Sapna, who appeared before the council to give an overview of the event, which focused its attractions on the downtown Seaford area. She said it appears that the crowds who visited the festival this year were more than double those of previous years. “We had many more participate in the youth fishing tournament and the Little Miss Pageant,” she said. “There were also many more people at this year’s entertainment.” She said the major crowds of people who attended both the Mike Hines and Randy Lee Ashcraft concerts led event sponsors to discuss with both acts the potential of coming back for next year’s River Fest event. The only negative issues Sapna could relate to the council involved a minor accident with the special Festival shuttle services being operated by the Odd Fellows Lodge and some youth who were found to be “messing” with vendor equipment along High Street during one of the evening concerts. There were no damages to vehicles or injuries related to the shuttle service accident and no damages related to the alleged incident involving the youth. Sapna also said there were some minor problems with electric service during the event. However, she said city electric department workers corrected the problems. “The problem seemed to be that some vendors were not completely honest with us when they filled out the forms letting us know what they needed,” she said. “Some were using more power than they had led us to expect.” Sapna credited the media with providing a great deal of support for promoting this year’s event. She said radio, television and local and state newspapers were cooperative and helped make the event the success that it was. Councilwoman Pat Andrews said she feels the River Fest was a wonderful event for the community and sees it as “the start of something big” for the city. This was a point that City Manager Dolores Slatcher took exception to. She warned that there is no way the River Fest could get any bigger and still have a home in the downtown area. “The downtown area could not handle anything bigger,” she said. “The event was somewhat sprawled out and it was a long walk between vendors and events for some people. There seemed to be a lot of activity near the river and near the stages, but those vendors set up at either end of High Street did not get as much business. We had electric issues and I think you have to be careful about how big you plan to get. As a matter of fact, I think we stretched things this year.” Slatcher also reminded council that plans are to build a new City Hall on the empty lot at the corner of High and Market streets. This would mean the loss of the property that housed the carnival during this year’s River Fest. Sapna said the coordinators of this year’s event would be getting together to critique this year’s River Fest as a means to prepare for next year’s event. She said there have been preliminary discussions about allowing the event to remain a two-day affair. Once again Slatcher expressed concern, saying this could put a financial burden on the city. “This was a two-day event because of the cancellation of the Chicken Festival,” she said. “I would suggest it remain a one-day event. Though there are many people and organizations that come together and volunteer time and effort, there are still a lot of man hours spent preparing for the event and cleaning up. I know I make issue about the budget; we have to be cautious about finances. The event is great and certainly a positive for the city, but does become costly.” Sapna said there are those who would like to at least see the event start with a Friday night concert. Mayor Dan Short expressed his appreciation to Sapna and the other coordinators of the event for a successful River Fest. He also lauded the efforts of city employees who worked hard getting the city spruced up in time for the event.

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.