Millsboro Chamber announces plans for Millbilly Festival

Date Published: 
March 29, 2013

Last week, the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce announced plans to hold the first annual Millbilly Festival & Redneck Games on Sept. 21.

“We had an idea to do some type of a redneck festival,” explained Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amy Simmons. “We did not want that to be the main focus event. We still wanted it to be something that represented Millsboro. It took us several meetings and a lot of brainstorming to come up with, instead of Hillbilly, Millbilly Festival.”

With the catchphrase, “You know you’re a Millbilly if you live above sea level between Gravel Hill and Hickory Hill,” which was created by Millsboro Town Manager Faye Lingo, Simmons said the event will be geared toward families. An area just for kids will be featured, along with kids’ games and family events.

“We’ve got a lot to do. What we plan to start off with is an ‘ugly truck’ parade throughout town with prizes. Directly after that, we would have ‘bedknobs and redneck’ bed races downtown,” explained Simmons. “There would be teams of people with beds. There will have to be a mattress, box spring, or both, and either a footboard or headboard on wheels. There will be points given for decorations, and one person must ride it. We are going to have a redneck pet parade down at Cupola Park later that afternoon.”

Simmons added that the Chamber also plans to have a chickin’ pickin’ contest and a flickin’ chicken contest, along with a cornhole tournament.

“There’s going to be backyard bowling with tires and trashcans, horseshoes played with toilet seats. We’re going to hold ‘Millbilly Idol,’ judged by non other than the Sussex County Hillbillies,” said Simmons.

One of the festival’s main attractions will be a special appearance by “Cooter Davenport” from “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

“The General Lee will be here, and Cooter from the garage will be here. He will be signing autographs for a couple of hours that afternoon,” said Simmons, adding that the idea was the brainchild of board member Kevin Turner and will bring actor Ben Jones, who played Cooter on the show for an appearance and a musical performance, too.

“[Cooter’s] Garage Band is going to headline Saturday night. They play a little bit of country, a little bit of rock-n-roll and a little bit of gospel. I could listen to them all day — it’s just fun.”

Simmons said the festival is still being planned and that she hopes that the community and area nonprofits join in to make the event a success.

“We’re still trying to nail down things. We are going to be going out into the community and talking to the nonprofit organizations about what they would like to do. We want to include all of our local community organizations in this. It’s going to be a Chamber event, but we want nonprofits to be involved in this in any way they want to.”

Simmons noted that the town’s annual Big Thursday celebration will be scaled back this year, with the Millbilly Festival poised to take center stage.

“We are still going to do some representation of Big Thursday, but it’s only going to be on the Thursday,” said Simmons of the Aug. 8 event. “With the area changing, the population changing, here people don’t understand the history behind it like some of the longtime community members do.”

According to Simmons the festival has been well received, including by the Millsboro Town Council, Chamber members and Southern Delaware Tourism.

“We want to draw people to Millsboro,” she said of the festival. “The research I’ve done on these held in areas somewhat similar to ours, they’ve been very popular and remain popular. They’ve always exceeded the numbers they expected. We’re not going to go big-big this year. We’re going to see what the response is to this.”

Simmons said she and all those involved are hoping for a successful and unique festival that will be family focused and draw more people to the town.

“We do want to reemphasize that this is a family, community event. That’s how we see that. We want to keep it tasteful, but good old country fun. That’s in a nutshell what this is going to be. We’re hoping for a lot of community support,” she said.

“It’s something new and different. This is going to be a totally different thing from that. We’re very excited about it, and I’ve got a great committee working on it that’s been faithful. I’m very, very excited about it. I’m looking forward to it.”

For sponsorship or volunteer information, contact the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce at (302) 934-6777 or email info@millsborochamber.com.

I think that millbilly

I think that millbilly festival is an awesome idea! Whoever came up with the concept , kudos. I agree that the Big Thursday , has ran its course. Participation along with the count of attendance has decreased over many years. It is time for a change and its nice to redneckize that us lower Sussex countians are what we are and we represent not only our culture but our inheritance. Even if it is a shot in a bucket, lol. Good luck and great success planning this event.

"new and different?" Not so much.

How exciting that Millsboro will be joining the laundry list of towns claiming to be "rednecks." Never mind the success stories that have come from our little town. Never mind the agricultural industry that keeps this town afloat. Why should we bother to celebrate the uniqueness of Millsboro when we can be REDNECKS? Yee haw! I may pull out one of my full mouth of teeth so I can lower myself to this level and fit in with this "festival" better. Can't wait to get my bed ready for the race!

It never bothered me to tell folks that I was born and raised in this little town, but now I'm not so sure. Oh, and let's make sure all the new residents claiming the area as their own don't have to bother with learning anything at all about Millsboro tradition or history.

It's better this way, isn't it?