Even without a float-in, Riverfest packs in crowd

By Ronald MacArthur

Nanticoke Riverfest organizers were a little apprehensive about this year's event when they were forced to cancel the signature event that draws hundreds of people to the downtown Seaford area. But even without the Nanticoke Float-In, the Riverfest's signature event, the attendance for the 2006 was up from the previous year, according to one of the co-chairs Amy Walls. "Just imagine how many more people we could have had," she said. On Thursday, Riverfest organizers announced that the popular Nanticoke Float-In had to be canceled due to high bacteria count in the Nanticoke River because of the runoff from heavy rains on June 25 and the week following. "We know that people really look forward to that event, but most people took it in stride," Walls said. "If somebody had gotten sick it would have jeopardized us doing the float-in again," she added. Even without the float-in, there was a packed schedule of events on Friday night until 11:30 p.m. and until 11 p.m. on Saturday night. Walls estimated that from 12,000 to 15,000 people attended this year's Riverfest with a big increase in Friday's attendance. She said that committee solicited more food vendors to open on Friday night and also moved the main entertainment, The Funsters, to Friday to boost entertainment. It worked. "Friday night was amazing; our attendance had to be quadrupled," Walls said. "The carnival sold 4,000 tickets and had to send back to get more tickets. They were anticipating a slow Friday night with business picking up on Saturday. The vendors were getting slammed all night." She said that numbers were up in most events including the 5K run and canoe and kayak races. A dunking booth (manned by the Nanticoke Rotary) and an opening ceremony (with awards presented to sponsors who have supported the event for five years) were added to the event this year. In addition, an emotional presentation took place to open Riverfest on Saturday when Walls and other co-chair Trisha Booth called Laurie and Malcolm VanSciver to the stage to make presentations to them in memory of Ben and Bethany VanSciver, who died in an accident last July. "Ben was such an important part of Riverfest and he was dedicated to the children's events," Walls said. "From now on, the children's area at Riverfest will be known as the VanSciver Children's Area in their memory." Ben was an employee in the city's department of parks and recreation at the time of his death. The Little and Jr. Miss Riverfest Pageant was moved from Saturday to Friday night. This year's Little Miss Riverfest is Allison Dayton, the daughter of Brian and Rita Dayton of Seaford. The first runner up is Sierra Scott, the daughter of Amanda and Cole Scott of Seaford. This year's Jr. Miss Riverfest is Rachel Buckler, the daughter of Richard and Donna Buckler of Georgetown. The first runner up is Bridget Johnson, the daughter of Tambrey Johnson of Seaford. One of the highlights of the event was the performance of The Funsters on Friday night. The crowd was even larger than last year's, according to Walls. Lead singer Sherman Ward, who grew up in Seaford, had many family members and friends in the crowd. He joked throughout the night about growing up in Seaford. "This is about the size of the crowds we use to play for at the Jaycee Pool splash parties," he joked. "Hey, is Manning's Pharmacy still open? I left off a prescription there in the 1960s and I forgot to pick it up," he asked the crowd. (The High Street drug store closed decades ago.)

ON SATURDAY, the Riverfest started with a 5K run at Chapel Branch, the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. followed by religious music sponsored by the Seaford Ministerium. It was non-stop entertainment and action from then on along High Street from the Seaford Museum to Gateway Park and along the Nanticoke Riverwalk. In the modified Riverfest Mayor's Challenge, the hometown mayor, Ed Butler walked away with a narrow victory and the Riverfest Challenge Cup. And in the tradition that befits the mayor's challenges, there was an immediate protest filed by Joe Conaway, the president of the Bridgeville Commission. Butler finished in first place in the Duck Driving Contest with a low score of five points followed by Conaway with 5.5 points and Blades Mayor David Ruff in third with six points, Laurel Mayor John Shwed in fourth with 7.5 points and Georgetown Mayor Mike Wyatt in fifth with 9.5 points. In the competition on the Nanticoke Riverwalk, the officials hit small plastic ducks with a canoe paddle from a golf tee into a target placed in the Nanticoke River. They were awarded points for the location of the splashdown of the duck. When Seaford Councilman Mike Vincent announced the results, Conaway said," Don't clap. Where does the one-half point come from? I'm going to the commissioner on this one. Just wait until we get him up there in Bridgeville for the scrapple toss during the Apple-Scrapple Festival." During the pre-game announcements Vincent explained the rules and talked about the origin of the new Duck Driving Contest. Last year, the mayor's had a canoe race. "Our mayor knew he couldn't spit a seed and knew he couldn't catch a fish, so he came up with this," he said. "And Mayor Butler has been practicing every night for the past two weeks. We don't care what the other four mayors do, but Ed has got to win," Vincent said with a big smile. A brief rain storm shortened the popular youth fishing tournament, which started at noon along the Nanticoke Riverwalk. According to organizer Bart Hastings, about 80 youngsters took part in the event, which is less than the usual number that show up to fish. "I think the bacteria scare kept some people away, but those who came were catching a lot of fish," he said.

Top 20 Riverfest Car Show winners:
Joe Haman, Bridgeville, 1937 Ford Coupe; Ron and Kim Helmbrecht, Parsonburg, Md., 1969 Camaro SS; Wayne Cannon, Seaford, 1937 Plymouth Coupe; Sam Adkins, Seaford, 1965 Corvette; Kevin and Tina Craig, Seaford, 1968 Chevelle; Charley and Donna Neithardt, Seaford, 1937 Chevy Coupe; Jerry and Dotty Bauguess, Seaford, 1940 Ford Business Coupe; Bob and Bev Steigler, Harrington, 1958 Ford Fairlane; Dan and Lynn Pozzuto, Blades, 1934 Ford Roadster; Ed Young, St. Michael's, Md., 1956 Chevy Bel Air; Sherman and Phyllis Hill, Seaford, 1962, Chevy Impala; Eddie Casper, Marydel, 1969 Chevy Nova SS; Bunky Burke, Seaford, 1955 Chevy Bel Air convertible; Ernie and Cindy Gallo, Clayton, 1931 Model A; Barry DiAntonio, Dover, 1963 Corvette; Roger and Dee Ridgeway, Dover, 1965 Ford Mustang; Bob and Vivian Watkins, Houston, 1957 Chevy Bel Air; Ben Wheatley, Seaford, 1956 Chevy convertible; JR and Pat Freer, Greenwood, 1966 Ford Falcon; Brenda Ellingsworth, Wyoming, 1930 Chevy Coupe.

Duck Dash winners:
First heat: First place, Michael Hartman; second place, Joe Lynch; third place, Dalton Biron. Second heat: First place, Ed Butler; second place, Lucinda McBroom; third place, Nancy Vogts.

The following businesses and organizations were honored as five-year sponsors of the Nanticoke Riverfest:
City of Seaford, Hastings Marine, GMB, Money Mailer, Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce, Seaford Pizza King/Baynum Enterprises, Blades Volunteer Fire Company, Seaford Volunteer Fire Department, ASAP Screenprinting, Clarks Pools, Comcast, Conectiv - Delmarva Power, Creative Kitchens and Floors, Discover Bank, Downtown Seaford Assoc., Fantasy Beauty Salon, Franklin Bank, Froggy 99.9 (radio), Harley-Davidson of Seaford, Heritage Jewelers, i.g.. Burton, Johnson Polymer, Kaye Construction, Kent-Sussex Tire, Peebles, Nanticoke Health Services, Meg-Gem, Penco, Seaford Star-Morning Star Publications, Soroptimist International of Seaford, Watson/Yates Funeral Home, WTDK The Duck (radio), Vincent Fire Equipment, Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, Orient Corporation, Taylored Tackle, M-T Trash Inc., Seaford Auto Parts, Jan Weir, Seaford Golf and Country Club, The Leader and State Register, Henlopen Bait and Tackle, Assateague Mobile Sports Fishermen, Regan Auctions, ReMAX, Broadcreek Medical Services and Seaford Florist.

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