This weekend, Millville will kick off the post-summer season with its signature fall festival. The fifth annual Great Pumpkin Festival will be held on the grounds of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“It was started by former mayor Don Minyon,” said festival chairman and Millville Councilman Jon Subity. “He had a dream of having a fall festival and, in true Don Minyon fashion, wanted to take it to the top.”
At the festival, there will be many free activities for children to enjoy, from face painting and a petting zoo to a rock-climbing wall, obstacle course and bouncy house.
“All the games are free. Each kid gets a Halloween bag with prizes in them. Pretty much everyone is a winner,” said Town Manager Debbie Botchie.
There will also be a magician from Dickens Parlour Theatre roaming the festival grounds, doing one-on-one magic for attendees. Live music will be performed by Thirty Three & 1/3, new to the festival this year.
For $3, kids may also purchase a pumpkin and a decorating kit that they can either decorate that day or take home for another day. Kids can also enjoy pony rides provided by Happy View Farms for $2 from noon to 2 p.m.
Attendees can go to the festival hungry, as there will be plenty of food on hand, sold by Fat Tuna, Perucci’s and Fox’s Pizza Den. The Indian River JROTC will be selling hotdogs, while Hocker’s will have pulled pork and the Doric Lodge will have pit beef and barbeque, as well. Pumpkin ice cream provided by Bonkey’s will also be available.
“The pumpkin ice cream has always been a crowd favorite,” noted Botchie.
Another crowd favorite is the annual pumpkin pie-eating contest, where different age groups will compete against their peers to see who can eat the most pumpkin pie in an allotted time.
“We want to keep it very family-oriented and very low cost,” explained Subity, “and in doing that also provide entertainment for everyone, from the young child to the grandparent.”
During the event, attendees may also enjoy the offerings of Millville Farmers’ Market vendors. Throughout the day, there will also be raffles and prizes for those in attendance.
“URS is donating three very large baskets filled with goodies. We’ll be selling tickets for a chance to win one of those,” explained Botchie. “Our businesses are so gracious and donate gift certificates, and those who attend can also enter for a free chance to win.”
Botchie said that the Millville Volunteers will be out in full force, and this year Indian River High School JROTC students will also be lending a hand.
“Forty-two cadets from the JROTC from IRHS signed up to help us. Isn’t that awesome?” Botchie said. “They came to me last year, and the masses of people were coming in and these cadets came to me and asked, ‘Ma’am, is there anything we can do to help?’ So this year they will help us set up, run the games, rock wall, bouncy house and help with the tear down.”
Free parking will be available Millville Town Hall and Lord Baltimore Elementary School, with free shuttle services provided by the Black Pearl designated driver service bus.
Subity said that thousands of people have attended the event in years past, and the Town expects a great turnout.
“The community response has been fantastic and surprising. Every year we’ve had people coming from literally all over the place, traveling to be here. I think that really speaks to Debbie and her team,” said Subity. “Our original intention was to have a family-oriented event where people could come out and not have to spend any money but showcase what the local businesses and community have to offer. That’s been our goal since its inception, and that continues to be the case.”
Subity added that he hopes people who have never attended the event before will swing by and enjoy a fun-filled day with family.
“We just hope it continues to be a success. It’s always been a pleasant surprise that we’ve always had a successful event. We hope for great weather and hope everyone comes out and tells their friends about it for next year.”
The Great Pumpkin Festival will be held at the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall grounds, located at 35554 Atlantic Avenue in Millville. For more information on the festival, visit www.millville.delaware.gov or call (302) 539-0449.