Riverfest brings crowds to downtown

By Lynn R. Parks

Take 500 pounds of barbequed beef, shredded for sandwiches. Mix in 420 lemons, 35 pounds of sugar, thousands of hot dogs, dozens of kielbasa and hundreds of crab cakes.

Toss with music, jugglers, contests and warm, summer weather, and what do you get? Riverfest, Seaford's annual festival to celebrate its downtown and the Nanticoke River that flows nearby.

The city of Seaford held its 17th annual Riverfest last weekend. The festival started Thursday evening with opening ceremonies and continued Friday evening with entertainment and the Little and Junior Miss Riverfest pageants.

Saturday was the festival's big day. Thousands of people walked along High and Market streets and visited the food and other vendors there, said Trisha Newcomer with the city of Seaford. In addition, about 400 people took place in the festival's signature event, the Nanticoke River Float-In, Newcomer said.

"I would like to personally thank the mayor and city council, everyone on the Riverfest committee and the numerous volunteers who freely gave their time to make this year's event the success it was," Newcomer said.

The people who participated in the Float-In got in the water just west of U.S. 13 and floated and paddled their way to the city's canoe launch, on South North Street.

Nicole Stolar, Drew Rehanek and Drew's son, Skyler, 5, all from Federalsburg, Md., were the first to get out of the water at the canoe launch. It took them one hour and 16 minutes, in two yellow and blue inner tubes, to float and paddle.

"This was awesome," Stolar said. Skyler especially liked it when passing boats generated a little wave action, she added. "We've been to the festival before, but never did the Float-In," Stolar said. "We will definitely do this again."

Christopher Simon, Bridgeville, was also one of the floaters. "I really like the fact that it's a nice, long river and you get a lot of time to relax and soak up all the sun," he said.

Lucas Monson, 13, of Bridgeville, said that he decided to swim the distance, "just for fun." "It took a long time and I'm pretty tired," he said after he climbed out of the water. Even so, he had resisted the temptation to grab onto inner tubes that were floating nearby. "That would have felt like cheating," he said.

Storm Cannon of Seaford was standing at the canoe launch, waiting for his girlfriend, Laura Human, and her father, Tim, to come ashore.

Earlier in the day, he had been at the car show, where he had a 1967 Chevy C-10 pickup truck on display, and had walked around the festival, visiting vendors' booths and getting a funnel cake and a drink.

"I seen all the sights and a lot of familiar faces," Cannon said. Cannon is the owner of Joe Ben's Auto Shop on U.S. 13. He said that he was happy to see so many people in downtown. "It can't hurt a town's economy to have a couple of thousand of people visit," he said.

Mike Covey, a member of Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, was counting on all those people to help boost the church's missions fund. He was in charge of Mt. Olivet's lemonade stand, where he hoped to sell 800 glasses of the freshly-made drink.

"We've got 420 lemons, 35 pounds of sugar and I don't know how much water," he said. Using two lemons per glass, that was enough raw material for 840 glasses, he added. Proceeds will help pay for the annual missions trip to Cherokee, N.C., in which Mt. Olivet youth participate.

Near the lemonade stand, members of the Odd Fellows Lodge in Seaford sold hot dogs, kielbasa and crab cakes. "We started out with 333 crab cakes," said volunteer Charlie Good. No more, no less – "it's just how many we ended up with with the ingredients that we had," he added.

Business was brisk, Good said. "We'll be here until 11 o'clock tonight, unless we sell out first," he added. Ron Hurst Jr., a member of the Greenwood Volunteer Fire Department, was manning the large grill behind the department's barbecued beef stand. The department started out with 500 pounds of beef, he said.

"We didn't sell much Friday night," he added, probably because of area thunderstorms. "We hope that we can make up for that today." Sheila DiSaia of Seaford was at Riverfest with her three grandchildren, Joe DiSaia, 8, Brandon DiSaia, 6, and Emily DiSaia, 3, all from Baltimore. She and Emily were waiting while Joe and Brandon, strapped to large elastic cords, jumped up and down on a trampoline. Joe was a bit cautious on the device, provided by Vertical Reality. Brandon was a little more adventuresome.

"They saw this and couldn't wait to get over here," said their grandmother. The children had also enjoyed the Riverfest carnival and the car show, she added. After Joe and Brandon got unstrapped, they were heading to the food area to get something to eat. "This is a great day," DiSaia said. "The children love it."

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