Riverfest starts with entertainment Friday

- Several detours will be in place during Riverfest weekend. See a list (and also where to park) included in the supplement inside this edition.

By Lynn Parks

Seaford’s 10-year-old Riverfest has its roots in an annual summer party of residents in riverfront developments east of town. According to city councilman and Riverfest co-chairman Ron MacArthur, a big part of that summer party was floating down the Nanticoke River, about 1/4 of a mile west to US 13. Last year, about 600 people participated in the Nanticoke River Float-In, the highlight of the two-day Riverfest festival. MacArthur said that in the summer of 1994, he happened to spot the party of floaters in the river. “There were about 30 or 40 people out there, some of whom I recognized,” he said. “It looked fun and relaxing.” The next year, MacArthur joined them. And he decided to get together a group of his friends, to float from what was then the Flagship restaurant on US 13 all the way to Seaford, about 1 and 1/2 miles. “I started talking about it and a lot of people thought it was a really good idea,” he said. The number of participants grew from about a dozen “to 30, 40, 50,” he added. “Everybody wanted to do it. And I started to get nervous about the responsibility.” MacArthur contacted George Beauchamp, then director of the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce, and asked if the chamber was interested in sponsoring a public event. Beauchamp agreed and the first Nanticoke River Float-In was held in 1995. Nearly 100 people participated that first year. When they landed along Water Street just east of the Blades Causeway Bridge, they were fed hot dogs and sodas. The event grew from there. By the third year of the Float-In, vendors were calling asking to set up booths along Water Street. In 1999, the city used what was by then called the Riverfest to promote the new renovations in downtown. Three years ago, the festival expanded to two days. Nearly 10,000 people attended last year’s festival, MacArthur said. He expects about that number this year, as well as more than 75 food and arts and crafts vendors who will line High Street. There will also be a carnival and entertainment. But despite the additional features, the Float-In is still the highlight of the festival, MacArthur said. “People are out in the river in everything,” he said. “Tubes, kayaks, canoes, home-made boats, inflatable rafts — you name it, they do it.” Some people even swim the length of the Float-In, “ he said. Many events are on this year’s Riverfest schedule, which starts with entertainment and food Friday, July 9, at 6 p.m. Oyster sandwiches, barbecued chicken, PK pizza, drinks and ice cream will be available on Friday night. Autumn Bay and Truitt’ Sub Shop on High Street will be open for business as well. The Float-In will take place on Saturday, July 10, starting at 2 p.m. There is a change in the event this year. For safety reasons, all floaters under the age of 16 must wear lifejackets. The committee is urging all floaters to wear lifejackets, but will require all youth to wear one. A limited number of tubes will be for sale for $10 the day of the event. A limited number of lifejackets will also available for sale. Entertainment will take place throughout the event on two stages.
Mike Neill will be at the Seaford Department of Parks and Recreation booth starting at 11 a.m. He won a gold medal in the 2000 Olympic Games playing for Team USA Baseball. The highlights of the event will include Mike Hines and the Look (sponsored by Pizza King) on Friday, July 9, from 8 to 11 p.m. and the Ray Cannon’s Nightlife Band (sponsored by Harley-Davidson of Seaford) on Saturday from 8 to 11 p.m. The Swing City Band will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. All entertainment is free and will take place in the parking lot of Mt. Olivet Church just off High Street in downtown Seaford. Matt Esham will perform at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday. There will be other entertainment throughout the day on Saturday including the first Gong Show sponsored by Froggy 99.9 and Carteret Mortgage from 3 to 6 p.m. The youth fishing tournament will take place on Saturday at 10 a.m. along the Nanticoke Riverwalk. There will also be a duck calling contest and a retriever demonstration. Canoe and kayak races will start at 9 a.m. The Seaford Museum will be open and will feature dancing by Nanticoke Indians on Saturday from 9:30 to 10 a.m. and again from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Ducks ($5) are available for the Nanticoke Duck Dash at the Seaford City Hall and the Seaford Star and at the information booth on Saturday. The Dash will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday near the Riverwalk. The Stine Amusements Carnival will take place on Thursday, July 8, from 6 to 10 p.m., on Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Nearly 75 vendors will line High Street on Saturday including everything from food to arts and crafts. There will be a carnival, inflatables, a climbing wall and other children’s activities, canoe jousting, the annual canoe and kayak races, the annual Southern Delaware Street Rod Association show (9 a.m.), the Little and Miss Riverfest Pageant (10 a.m.), and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle ride-in (11 a.m.). The Mayor’s Challenge Row Boat Race will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Nanticoke Health Services will offer screenings and have booths set up. Many non-profit and state agencies will have booths. Downtown business will have demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday. Shuttle service will be available from the Fred Douglass Elementary School parking lot. For details, phone 628-1200. The theme of this year’s event is Lazy Days on the Nanticoke. For more information contact one of the following: vendors information, Wendy Pinkine, 629-9173; general information, Ron Breeding, 628-6002.

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