MILFORD — A large American flag waved in the slight breeze above Milford’s Bicentennial Park, hung from the ladder of a fire engine as a crowd dressed mostly in red, white and blue mingled beneath it on the banks of the Mispillion River.
Milford’s 20th anniversary of its Riverwalk “Freedom” Festival was certainly a patriotic one. The word “Freedom” was added to the name by the festival’s organizers 20 years ago in honor of the 9/11 attacks.
The festival was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but came back strong this year with several thousand in attendance at the event, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford.
Activities were available for people of all ages, and some for non-humans as well.
One of the first events of the day was the “Petriotic Parade” featuring dogs decked out in USA colors. The four-legged friends paraded around the library and had some fun in mini-pools.
The Salisbury Zoo was also in attendance as it put on three shows for children. A petting zoo and pony rides were also available as well as other stations for kids including face-painting, games, a magic show, a dunk tank, bounce houses and miniature train rides.
People crowded up and down Walnut Street, Washington Street and Front Street checking out more than 100 vendors selling food, art and crafts while a car show brought a crowd to Park Avenue, hosted by the Southern Delaware Street Rod Association.
Back in the center of Bicentennial Park, festival goers lounged on the lawn or pulled up a barstool at the nearby Red, White and Brew Garden. There they had a full view of the stage as bands Lincoln City, Kathie Martin & The Hot Rods, Mike Hines & the Look and Plead the 5th performed while welcoming groups to the event.
Just behind the stage, paddleboats went up and down the Mispillion River in the early afternoon as families took in the sights.
The river was then taken over by rubber ducks for one of the festival’s most popular events — the Mispillion Duck Dash. Each duck was numbered, and could be bought for $5. The person with the winning duck’s number took home the grand prize of $500.
Once the rubber ducks left, another patriotic parade went down the river with motorboats decorated in red, white and blue. The best patriotically decorated boat also received a prize.
The day was then capped off by a Bicentennial Park fireworks show at night. Proceeds from the festival, the chamber’s largest fundraiser, benefit operations and are also donated back to other local organizations.