Riverfest enjoys great 10th anniversary event
By Jim Westhoff
The warm sun and slight breeze greeted the estimated 11,000 visitors to the 10th Annual Seaford Riverfest according to co-chairmen, Ron Breeding and Ronald MacArthur. It was the events and activities, however that took center stage. Vendors of every type lined the street, while classic cars, motorcycles, and even an inflatable sheriff’s deputy held everyone’s interest. These attractions are all in addition to the famous Float In. This is before even one tube enters the water for the famous Float In, which attracted mroe than 650 floaters. In addition 2,200 attended friday night’s concert and 2,100 attended Saturday night’s concert.
“Every time I come here, I get the chicken (for lunch),” said Ed Young, of St. Michael’s, Md., as his gleaming red 1935 Ford Roadster drew the eyes of everyone who strolled past. Young entered his car in the car show, which was presented by the Delmarva Street Rods Association.
Perhaps the reason Young spoke so fervently about the chicken, was that the smell of barbecue chicken wafted past the gleaming cars from just a few yards away.
Posted downhill from the cars and the chicken, shaking hands like he was running for office, was Deputy Bob. Deputy Bob, you see, was an inflatable person who stood about 20 feet in the air. And he was walking around and greeting visitors.
“There’s a real person in there!” shouted one young man after giving Deputy Bob a high five.
“Deputy Bob breaks down the barriers,” said Sussex County Sheriff Robert Reed. “He lets people see that we are human beings after all.” In addition, Reed said that he is trying to educate people about what the sheriff’s department does. He was talking with people about some of the new programs, such as a Community Watch. “It will be in unincorporated areas of Sussex County,” he said. Farther up the hill, was a long line of gleaming chrome and black leather. The motorcycles of the Riverfest ride-in were attracting many admirers. Sitting astride a 2000 Harley Davidson Softail Deuce was Jim Mears of Georgetown. “I come here every year,” he said. “I get to see everybody, talk to some friends, and just enjoy myself.”
In addition to enjoying themselves, many people spent the day educating citizens about various issues. Visitors had opportunities to learn about Native American heritage, staying in school, nature conservation, and many others.
“Crabcakes! Looks like you need a crabcake,” said Steve Schwartz to people as they passed by. Schwartz was manning the tent for the Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy. “Usually, people only see the river from their car. This gives people an opportunity to see the river, and appreciate its beauty,” he said. In addition to giving out literature, Schwartz and his crew was busy raising funds by hawking crab cakes.
Dressed in the vibrant colors, feathers and bells of the Nanticoke Indians, Matt Harmon was eager to show visitors some traditional dances. “This river is where our people came from,” the Millsboro resident said. “The dance we will show today is a celebration of homecoming. It’s how we welcome family and people.”
After the dance demonstration, the sound of the water was literally calling the visitors down the hill. Near the water’s edge, a duck call competition was drawing hunters and people who were just plain interested. Sponsored by the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited, the contestants made an extraordinary range of sounds from such a simple-looking instrument.
“I came here for the duck calling,” said Pam Isaacs of Seaford. “I’ve never actually seen it done in person.”
If people were not watching the duck callers, they were watching canoe jousting. Just like it sounds, canoe jousting involves two canoes, three people on each canoe. Each canoe has two people paddling on each canoe and one person standing on a platform with a padded jousting pole. The jousters then try to knock their opponent into the water.
“I was the losing jouster!” shouted Leah Bowman without even a trace of disappointment. Bowman was among her softball teammates. The Softball Chix, a 14 and under softball team, who was having a bake sale nearby hoped to raise money for its trip to the Nationals in Sterling, Va. “The water was a little brisk,” Bowman said.
By this time, people were drifting away from the vendors, because the time was near to get in the water; The Float In.
Also getting ready were members of the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department. Four firefighters were going to work on the water, riding in a 17’ boat, watching over the people floating in the water.
Well, actually two firefighters were going to be in the boat. The other two were rescue divers who floated along with the crowd. Sam Hastings and K.C. Tull, Jr., both wore their wetsuits and flippers. “We’re here just in case we might need a diver,” Tull said.
Fortunately, their diving expertise was not needed, but they were put to work helping to enforce a new rule.
“Thank you for putting on your lifejackets,” said boat captain Wayne Rigby to a few people who were just entering the water. This was the first year that the riverfest committee required all children under 16 to wear lifejackets during the float in. Like any new rule, there were a number of bumps. Many young people did not know of the rule, and were not wearing life jackets. The fire crew spent most of the Float In gently asking young people to put on their lifejackets.
No one seemed to mind the fireman’s vigilance, however, since the sun and slow tidal currents brought hundreds of people down the river. Yellow and blue tubes floated on the green water with homemade crafts that ranged from floating docks to floating beds, and one floating contraption that had four wheels. “This is a beautiful river,” said Kevin Kehl, of Baltimore, as he stepped from the water. “It was so pleasant floating down; and we certainly can’t complain about the weather.”
Nine-year-old Will Kehl said his favorite part of the float in was “when people got dunked.” As the people pulled themselves from their tubes and began walking back up the hill, the sound of hot rods starting up carried through the air, and also in the air was the smell of chicken. Fresh, barbecued chicken.
Riverfest Car Show Winners
Jim Hall, Crisfield, Md., 1936 Dodge Coupe
Matt Thomas, Federalsburg, Md., 1982 Chevy Silverado
Bob & Debbie White, Houston, Del., 1967 Chevy Nova SS
David Mason, Crisfield, Md., 1968 Chevy Camaro
Charles McMahan, East New Market, Md., 1957 Ford Thunderbird
Kelly & Lisa Hubbard, East New Market, Md., 1934 Ford 3 Window
Lee Chaney, Georgetown, Del., 1979 Chevy Corvette
Everett Nock, Salisbury, Md., 1950 Ford 2 door Sedan
Ray Wilson, Georgetown, Del., 1967 Chevy Chevelle Malibu
Bob & Carol Sapp, Milford, Del., 1963-1/2 Ford Falcon
Paul Haddaway, Easton, Md, 1935 Chevy Coupe
Ron & Kim Helmbrecht, Parsonsburg, Md., 1969 Chevy Camaro SS
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