Riverfest returns to Milton

Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

After a year’s hiatus, Riverfest will be in full swing this July 4 at Riverfront Park in downtown Milton.

“We’ve been looking forward to this for two years now,” said Donna Tucker, CEO of the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s never fun when you have to cancel a party, but we’re ready to party now!”

The Blackwater Pyrates prepare for the Great Milltown Duck Race.

Riverfest will feature the events and things that festival goers love best: an all day celebration of our independence with fun activities, food, and arts and crafts.

There will an antique car show on Elmira Street beginning at 9 a.m., as well as a bike and trike show. The children’s activity area, known as Treasure Island, will be open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. with bouncy houses and waterslides. Food trucks and arts and crafts vendors will be there in full force all day. A veteran’s salute will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Veteran’s Memorial Park, and then of course there will be the fireworks at dusk.

The designated "duck swimmer retrieves the winners during a previous Great Milltown Duck Race.

“The chamber’s role in Riverfest is obtaining sponsors, volunteers, and activities and coordinating the schedule for all events," Tucker said. "The city of Milton provides all of the logistics, like street closings, dumpsters, police and fire support, etc. It would be impossible to put together an event of this size without the cooperation of both entities, and the city of Milton staff members are incredible to work with.”

Tucker added that “the chamber is grateful to Santa Rosa Medical Center and Sandy and Bubba’s Chevrolet for sponsoring this year’s Riverfest, and to the city of Milton and McKenzie Motors for sponsoring the fireworks."

The fireworks at dusk are sponsored by the city of Milton and McKenzie Autos.

No Milton Riverfest would be complete without one of the featured events, the Great Milltown Duck Race, put on by the Blackwater Pyrates. 

BWP captain Larry McKee, aka Lucky, said “the Pyrates are really looking forward to celebrating the (Fourth of July) with the community after missing last year.”

Capt. Lucky’s wife, Vickie, aka SasSea, served the Pyrates this year as the organization’s "Duck Diva." 

The BWP Duck Diva for this year is Vickie McKee, aka SasSea.

“We were unable to run the race last year, but have doubled our efforts this year," SasSea said. "We’ve had an extraordinary outpouring of support from the business community this year, and the Pyrates are grateful to all who supported us.”

Pyrates and local businesses alike have been busily "adopting out" ducks since February in preparation for this moment.

“Our efforts have been hugely successful this year,” SasSea said, “so we will only have 320 lucks left to adopt out prior to the race.”

At 5 p.m. the city will unload a dumpster filled with 5,000 racing ducks into the river, and the ducks will race downriver in a noodle barricade race track to the finish line, where a duck swimmer will retrieve the first three ducks through the shoot.

5,000 racing ducks are ready for the drop from the bridge for the Great Milltown Duck Race.

“We request that anyone attending the festival by boat keep the area between the two bridges clear between 4:30 and 6 for the safety of the Pyrates who will be conducting the race,” SasSea said.

BWP’s title sponsor for this year’s Great Milltown Duck Race is McKenzie Motors, with Bruce Baker Remax Realty and Sonny’s BBQ providing the Admiralty sponsorships.