Millville’s annual Pumpkin Festival will return this weekend, offering families the chance to enjoy fun fall festivities.
Former Millville mayor Don Minyon created the event in 2009 as a way to showcase the town.
“The driving force was the community,” said Town Manager Debbie Botchie of the event’s creation. “We wanted to create an event for the community that also supported our businesses.”
The free event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Route 17/Roxana Road at the Millville By the Sea sales center. Overflow parking for the event will be located at the Millville By the Sea Lifestyle Center, with the Bloody Mary providing free shuttle service to the festival grounds.
The family-friendly event offers free activities including a five-sided rock wall, a 50-foot shark slide and a surfing simulator.
“What’s really cool this year is the surfing simulator,” said Botchie. “We have six games and all free prizes. The kids get trick-or-treat bags. Every child is a winner, and they can go retrieve their prizes. We have Chessie the Lock Nest Monster, which is a real long monster, but is more of an inside obstacle course for the little ones. We have another bouncy — Under the Sea — that is a bouncy and a slide for the little ones.”
A version of bobbing for apples — where children may snag from a bucket a plastic apple filled with a treat — will also be available to children. The American Band will be providing musical entertainment throughout the day.
And, what’s a pumpkin festival without pumpkins?
“Millville By the Sea will be running the pumpkin decorating contest,” said Botchie, noting that the pumpkins will be from Fifer Orchards. “They’re putting up a tent. They have the pumpkins and decorations, and their staff will be helping.”
Millville By the Sea will also be hosting a horse-drawn hayride from the festival site to their Lifestyle Center.
“Once you get to their Lifestyle Center, they have treats and handouts and things like that,” said Botchie, adding that Bishops Landing is also sponsoring free pony rides for children.
“They, too, will have a display of their models and home information.”
Throughout the day, local businesses will sell food on-site. More than 35 vendors will also be taking part in the festival, including all the banks in town.
“And they do games for the kids, as well, and have giveaways.
“Hocker’s will be there with their new truck,” said Botchie, adding that they will be serving everything from crabcakes, to funnel cakes, to chicken tenders, to their pit beef and brisket. “Subway will be giving away 6-inch subs, but you have to play a game. The Doric Lodge #30 will be there with their famous barbecue chicken and the Point Coffee House & Bake Shoppe will be there with her homemade baked goods and fresh coffee.”
The Indian River High School JROTC will be returning to volunteer at game stations and sell hotdogs.
“We have two groups of young people helping us this year — the [Henlopen Chapter] DeMolays [a youth group of the Masons], we have 10 young men coming, and the JROTC cadets will be back this year to help us with the games.”
Although the festival was on hiatus last year due to road construction on Route 26, Botchie said the event has grown over the years.
“We keep adding things. We want to keep it interesting with the different games and apparatuses, like the bouncies, to throw in the mix. We try to get different bands in. This year we have over 35 vendors, which we’ve never had before,” she said, noting they are unable to count the number of attendees at the free event.
“Our whole area has grown,” Botchie added. “Children come from all over. I’ve met children from Pennsylvania, Virginia who come down and stay with their grandparents for the weekend because of the Pumpkin Festival. One woman told me they’ve come every year.”
Botchie said the Town has hired two Delaware State Police officers to work the event, to help with traffic and parking.
She added that the festival would not be possible without the Town’s capable staff and volunteers.
“If it weren’t for our staff, we wouldn’t be able to pull this off. We do everything in-house and then we pull in the Millville Volunteers,” she said.
Botchie said there are many events happening this weekend that everyone should go out and try to enjoy.
“There’s a lot of events going on in our area — hit them all,” said Botchie. “Everybody needs to get out and go to [Lord Baltimore Elementary] school for their Fun Fest, come to the Pumpkin Festival and have a good time.”
The Millville By the Sea sales center is located at 32695 Roxana Road in Millville. Overflow parking will be at the Millville By the Sea Lifestyle Center, located 30794 Endless Summer Drive in Millville.