Nanticoke Riverfest 18th annual celebration opens Thursday, July 12

By Lynn R. Parks

For the 18th year, the city of Seaford will welcome people into its downtown, to get to know businesses that are there and to celebrate the Nanticoke River that flows nearby.

Seaford's annual Riverfest, with the theme "Havin' a Ball on the Nanticoke," will be held July 12, 13 and 14, starting with opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. Thursday at city hall. A carnival, set up in the empty lot between Water Street and the Nanticoke, will also open at 6 that evening.

The festival will run through Saturday evening, when the band Anything Goes will close it out with a performance beginning at 9 p.m. The carnival will be open all three days, starting at 6 p.m. Friday and at noon Saturday.

The festival's cornerstone event, the Nanticoke River Float-In, will start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the office of Benz Urology, east of town just off U.S. 13. Hundreds of participants are expected to float down the river to the city's canoe launch on Water Street.

Registration for the Float-In will start at 1:30 a.m. Cost to float is $1; participants are asked to bring exact change and also to bring their own floating devices. A few inner tubes will be available for purchase, at $15 for single tubes and $20 for doubles. Kent Sussex Tire will have an air pump at the site to blow up inner tubes.

A few lifejackets will also be available for purchase. Children who are under 16 are required to wear lifejackets.

Organizers are asking floaters to park in Seaford's downtown and ride the shuttle to the launch site. That way, they will be near their cars when the Float-In is finished. There will not be shuttles back to the launch site.

On Thursday, the carnival will be open until 11 p.m. The Reminders, featuring local favorites Ed Shockley, Kevin Short and John Thompson, will play on the front steps at city hall, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

On Friday, Riverfest will kick off at 5 p.m., when the food vendors lining High Street open. The Mayor's Challenge, with area politicians competing for the Mayor's Cup, will start at 5:30 p.m. at city hall. Organizers aren't saying what the competition will be. But they do offer a clue: "This year's challenge is sure to provide relief from the heat." Past competitions have included a row boat race and an egg toss.

The annual Little and Junior Miss Riverfest pageants will start at 6 p.m. on the festival's main stage, which will be set up in the Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church parking lot. Girls age 3 through 6 (Little Miss) and 7 through 10 (Junior Miss) will vie for the crowns.

At 8:30 p.m., the Bo Dickerson Band will take to the main stage. The band will play until 11 p.m.

Saturday's activities will get started at 8:30 a.m. with the Vince Morris Memorial 5K run. The race will start near the water tower on Cedar Avenue and run out to the Ross Plantation and back. Registration for the run will start at 7:30 a.m. and will cost $15.

Registration will also start at 7:30 a.m. for the Riverfest's Canoe and Kayak Challenge. The vessels will set out from the Water Street launch at 10 a.m. Cost is $20 per person, $40 per team. Awards will be presented at 1 p.m. on the Nanticoke River drawbridge. For more information, call coordinator Alycia Jefferson, 245-5775, or e-mail her at

At 9 a.m. Saturday, the festival will get into full swing, with the opening of food and arts and crafts booths. Visitors will be able to start completing their treasure maps, which will qualify them to participate in a drawing for prizes, to be held at 6 p.m.

Registration for the youth fishing tournament, for children ages 3 to 16, will get underway along the Nanticoke at Water Street at 9 a.m., as will registration for the Weaver Memorial Car Show, held in Gateway Park in memory of long-time supporter Donald M. Weaver. The fishing tourney starts at 9:30 a.m. and the car show at 10 a.m.

Also at 10 a.m., the dunking booth, sponsored by the Nanticoke Rotary Club, will open. Volunteers for the hot seat so far include city Mayor Bill Bennett and assistant city manager Charles Anderson.

Children's activities will get underway at 10 a.m. next to city hall. They will remain open through 4 p.m.

Also at 10 a.m., registration for a beanbag toss, or cornhole, tournament, sponsored by the Blades Volunteer Fire Department, will start in the city hall parking lot. Cost is $25 per team. Teams can register by e-mail at The competition will kick off at 10:30 a.m.

At 11 a.m., the Riverfest Motorcycle Show, to be set up on High Street at Conwell Street, will open. Registration will start at 10:30 a.m.

New to the lineup this year is a duck-calling competition. The competition, set to start at noon, will feature three divisions, kids (ages 1 through 12), teens (13 to 17) and adults (18 and over). Participants are welcome to bring their own calls, or use ones that are provided. The competition will take place on the floating dock at the base of the Pine Street hill.

Registration to participate in Cat Country radio's Delmarva Star talent competition will open at 1 p.m. in the Mt. Olivet parking lot. The competition will have two divisions, 13 to 17 and adult. The contest will take place from 2 to 4 p.m.

At 2 p.m., a pedal tractor pull for children 5 to 13 will get underway at the corner of High and Market streets. The pedal tractor is provided by Hoober Inc., a tractor supply store in Seaford, and each participant will receive a gift from Hoober. Cost to participate is $2. Registration starts at 1:30 p.m.

The Duck Dash, a Riverfest tradition that features yellow plastic ducks racing in the Nanticoke, will start at 6 p.m. Saturday on the drawbridge. Cost per duck is $5; duck tickets are available in city hall and at the information booth on Saturday. Prizes of $100, $50 and $25 will be awarded.

Throughout the day Saturday, there will be entertainment at city hall and on the main stage in the Mt. Olivet parking lot. Entertainment at city hall will include the Barren Creek Band, the Juggling Hoffmans and magician Brian Boyd. On the main stage, entertainment will include Delaware Teen Challenge and Harvest Christian Church, dance troupe Feet of Fire, dancers from the Nanticoke tribe, 12-year-old Griffin Dunn, the Bog Bottom Outlaws, Low Profile and, to close out the festival, Anything Goes.

For your information The 18th annual Riverfest will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 12, 13 and 14, in downtown Seaford. For details, visit the website

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