Race rubber ducks, dress up your dog and catch fireworks over the river this Saturday, Sept. 14 in Milford.

Already daydreaming about next summer? We have some good news. Those dreams of cool nights floating down the river while fireworks crackle overhead or playing corn hole with buddies in your local beer garden can come true in Milford this weekend.

The Riverwalk Freedom Festival is returning to Mispillion Riverwalk for its 19th year with events and food vendors starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14.

A committee of about 20 people within the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford have spent all year preparing for the red-white-and-blue festival.

“I’m looking forward to a comeback,” said Angela Dorey, chairperson of the festival committee. Since the festival got rained out last year, she said she hopes to see double the crowd. “I hope to see the community come out and enjoy it. There’s something for everyone,” she said.

The festival is rain or shine, but if a major storm hits, the festivities will be moved to Sunday.

Volunteers needed!

The day of the event requires more than 160 volunteers, Dorey said. Less than a third of that have signed up so far, and organizers still need help doing everything from handing out tickets to being dunked in a dunk tank. Dorey encouraged anyone ages 13 and up to sign up here. 

Can’t-miss events

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Light the Night

Take a walk in downtown Milford and help raise money for blood cancer research. Anyone in the community can register for free to recognize and celebrate those touched by cancer. You will be given a battery-operated lantern with different colors representing patients, survivors and caregivers.

Registration opens at 5 p.m. and the walk begins at 7:30 p.m. by Bicentennial Park Pavilion. Participants can register the day of as an individual or with a team. About 20 teams have signed up so far.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which runs Light the Night events across the country, encourages walkers to raise money for the cause. To learn more about the organization, or how to get involved, check out www.lightthenight.org/delaware.

This is the first year the Light the Night event is coming to Riverwalk Freedom Festival.

“We’re excited about having them and hope they’ll participate in upcoming years as well,” Dorey said.

Duck Dash

Participants can buy a $5 rubber duck at the festival for the chance to win a cash prize in the annual duck race. All ducks are held behind a floating stopper, then released in the river to see which lucky duck will be the first to cross the finish line.

First prize wins $200, second prize $100 and third prize $50.

The dash begins at 1 p.m.

Patriotic Motor Boat Parade

This free-to-enter boat parade will bring out the Uncle Sam in every contestant. Locals show off their boats decorated in red-white-and-blue, patriotic style. The top three decorated boats win gift cards.

The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. and boaters are encouraged to stay on the river to enjoy fireworks at dusk, which is a hallmark event for the festival.

“I love to hear the crowd cheer for the fireworks. It gives me chills,” Dorey said.

‘Petriotic’ parade

Bring your pet in their best patriotic costume and let them strut their stuff. The parade starts at 12 p.m. on Washington Street near the library. Prizes for best dog and best costume will be awarded at 12:45 p.m.

For more festival events and entertainment line-ups, check out the full schedule in the photos above.

Past, present and future

The name “freedom festival” and the patriotic themes of all the events started in the festival’s second year after the tragedies of 9/11, Dorey said. The festival is all about celebrating freedom; from recognizing hometown heroes to enjoying a craft beer in the family-friendly Red, White and Brew Garden.

The beer garden, enclosed with a picket fence, is the only area where alcohol is allowed at the festival. While you hang out in the beer garden and enjoy live music, you can also try this year’s new cocktail “Riverwalk” from the new Milford restaurant Benvenuto.

Even though there are only a few more days before “cheers” ring out through downtown Milford, Dorey and her festival committee are already thinking ahead to next year: the 20th anniversary festival.

“We’re really hoping to make 2020 something special,” Dorey said.