MILFORD — From the streets of downtown Milford to the shores of the Mispillion River, festival goers will flock to an annual patriotic celebration on Saturday.
The Riverwalk “Freedom” Festival is Milford’s largest annual event, and, after having to cancel year No. 19 due to the pandemic, organizers are planning a massive 20th anniversary.
Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford, the event will bring thousands of locals and visitors downtown, with activities for all ages.
It’s been 20 years since the 9/11 attacks prompted the fest’s organizers to add “Freedom” to the name.
At the time, the committee wanted the community to come together to show support for the country, event organizers Angela Dorey and Jo Schmeiser said.
So the USA has remained at the forefront of the annual fair ever since.
This year, attendees will flock to Walnut Street, Washington Street, the Mispillion Riverwalk, Memorial Park and Bicentennial Park. The festival begins at 9 a.m., with most vendors, crafters, food sellers and others going until at least 4 p.m.
The expansive Kids Corner will have prizes, games, bounce houses, dunk tanks and much more from 10 to 4. Throughout the day, guests can enjoy animal presentations by the Salisbury Zoo, paddleboat and pony rides, live dancing and, of course, fireworks at 8:30.
The Petriotic Parade is an excuse for pet owners to dress their critters in red, white and blue. Prizes will be awarded for best patriotic outfit (registration from 9-11:45 and parade at noon). The Petriotic Park will also have splash pools, water bowls and pet-related vendors (near the library).
The Red, White and Brew Garden will be open noon until 10 p.m. This area is family-friendly, but individuals must be 21 to purchase and consume alcohol. There will be beer, hard seltzer and guest bartenders raising money for their favorite local nonprofits, as well as mixed drinks by The Alcohauler truck and food by River Lights Café. Guests can bring a blanket or chairs, but outside alcohol is not permitted.
On the nearby stage, live entertainment, starting at noon, will include four bands — Lincoln City, Kathie Martin & The Hot Rods, Mike Hines & the Look and Plead the 5th — which will lead into the fireworks at Bicentennial Park.
The Southern Delaware Street Rod Association is also teaming with the chamber to present a street rod and custom car show from 9 to 2. Registration is $10 for participating vehicles 30 years and older. Cars will be on display in the Park Place Restaurant & Lounge lot and along Park Avenue.
The Mispillion Duck Dash is a popular event for those who like to take their chances. For $5, people can reserve a rubber duck that will be numbered and raced down the Mispillion River. Cash prizes for the top three ducks range from $100 to $500.
Also sailing down the river, at 6:30 p.m., will be the annual patriotic motorboat parade. Prizes will be awarded to the best patriotically decorated vessels. Boats do not need to be decorated to participate.
Saturday night will also bring the inaugural Delaware State News Riverwalk Freedom Awards at 6:45, honoring those who have gone above and beyond during the last year, in categories including youth volunteer, first responder, veteran and more. Community nominations were accepted until early September, and the final selections will be chosen by committee. Local students will be part of the patriotic presentation of the awards, and a moment of silence will be held.
This event is the chamber’s largest fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting operations and being donated back to other local organizations.
Downtown Milford will have several road closures Friday and/or Saturday. Motorists should expect heavy foot traffic in the region. Partial closures include the shoulder of Northwest Front Street and the parking lot on Northeast Front Street at Arena’s. Full closures include parts of Walnut Street, Washington Street and Denney Row/Park Avenue.
For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page. The 16-page festival guide and map will be available on-site and online here.