On Saturday, April 25 Downtown Milford Inc. (DMI) and Milford Parks and Recreation will hold their 12th Annual Bug & Bud Festival. This year event goers can enjoy over 100 food and merchant vendors, downtown businesses, activities and entertainment. DMI estimates that the crowd this year will be around 10,000 people walking the streets and enjoying downtown Milford.
The Bug & Bud Festival is a celebration of two of Milford’s most cherished symbols, the ladybug and nature. The significance of the ladybug in Delaware is tied to Milford when a local second grade class petitioned the Delaware State Legislature in 1973 to accept the ladybug as the official State Bug. The festival also serves as a celebration of Arbor Day and Milford’s designation as a USA Tree City.
The Bug & Bud Festival serves to honor the city in several different ways, highlighting Milford’s branding, ‘River town, Art town, Hometown’ by accenting the Mispillion River, showing off the many different local artists and attracting people to the downtown business district. Over the years the festival has not only attracted people from Milford but also from several surrounding areas.
“The festival is a source of pride for the people of Milford and the surrounding area,” commented Marilyn Ambrose, Co-chairperson of the Downtown Milford Inc Promotions Committee. “It is a reminder each year of our commitment to the ladybug and our designation as a tree city.”
The Mispillion River will be open for fishing, paddle boats and remote control boats. Bicentennial Park will be full of family activities including pony rides, games, entertainment and food. Downtown businesses such as Blooming Boutique & Milford Gifts, Dolce Bakery & Coffee Shop, Irish Rose Gift Shop, Mispillion Antiques, Patty Cakes Bakery, Fur-Baby Boutique, Doggie Daycare & Spa and Sugar Bee Candy Store will be open among the other downtown merchants. The arts will be highlighted as The Delaware Music School, Gallery 37, Live Cheap & Make Art Studios, Mispillion Art League and the Riverfront Theatre will be open among other art venues. Downtown restaurants and bars that day including Abbott’s Grill, Arena’s Deli & Bar, Georgia House, Longshots Sports Bar & Billiards, Park Place Restaurant & Lounge and the Milford Tavern will also be open for business.
“We want families to come downtown and experience the shops, art galleries, restaurants, the theatre, the public library and the Milford Museum,” commented Ambrose. “There is so much to do, plenty to eat and entertainment for kids of all ages.”
The traditional kickoff parade that begins the festival each year, which includes children dressed as trees or ladybugs, will include the family pet this year. Milford’s local business, Fur-Baby Boutique, Daycare & Spa is helping Downtown Milford, Inc., by spearheading the new official pet category. In keeping with the tradition of a prize of $50 for the best tree costume and $50 for the best ladybug costume, the winning pet tree and ladybug will also get $50.
“We are so excited and grateful Fur-Baby is joining forces with us to help promote the pet parade and to judge the contestants,” said Marilyn Ambrose, Chair of the Bug & Bud Festival. “The band will lead the parade, followed by the children and then the new expanded pet parade will make for a really fun time. We think it will delight the crowd even more than usual.” Fur-Baby Boutique, Daycare & Spa will also be handing out a treat to any pet visiting their store in costume during the festival.
All the participants in the parade must meet at 9:30 am in the parking lot of the Calvary Methodist Church at 301 SE Front Street. The Milford Community band, “Bug Strutters,” will lead the parade through town and the grand Marshall of the parade this year will be former City of Milford Parks & Recreation Director Gary Emory. All the prize winners, human and furry, will be announced at the library amphitheater after the parade.
New to the festival this year will be the Shipbuilder River Race, a kayak race down the mighty Mispillion River with a finish in the downtown district. The Shipbuilder River Race starts at 9 am and is hosted by Downtown Milford, Inc. and the City of Milford Parks and Recreation Department. There will be two races that day including a 3-mile and an 8-mile kayak, double kayak, canoe and paddle board races as both races will start together. All paddlers must provide their own kayak, canoe or stand up paddle board. The courses are out and back, however the finish line is approximately a 1/3 of a mile west of the start line towards town. The finish line will take participants directly under the pedestrian bridge over the Mispillion River.
“I think it’s in keeping with the whole “River Town, Art Town, Home Town” theme, we have spent a good amount of time building the Riverwalk and making improvements alongside the river, it only makes sense to offer more things to bring people to actually use the river,” said Milford Parks & Recreation Director Brad Dennehy. An awards ceremony will be held at the Vinyard Shipyard, 6 Columbia Street, where Mispillion River Brewing will be serving a Vineyard Ale, in honor of the Vinyard Boat Yard, the sole remaining Shipyard of more than seven originally located on the Mispillion River.
“Ultimately we want to get people out on the water having fun, however we are hoping to build an event that people put on their calendar and look forward to every year, which brings out not only the local residents but also appeals to a wider audience,” said Dennehy. “Basically it’s all about showcasing what Milford has to offer. If they come for a kayak race and stay for a festival and have had fun then we have succeeded.”
“You won’t want to miss this over-the-top outdoor festival,” commented Ambrose. “Come listen to some great music, eat some great food, cruise in a lady bug paddle boat, don your lady bug costume for the parade, shop local and most important of all think ladybug.” For more information, individuals are encouraged to contact the Downtown Milford, Inc. office at 302-839-1180 or visit www.downtownmilford.org and follow the festival links.