The final piece to Bayhealth’s Sussex Campus will be on display at this year’s Bug and Bud Festival.
Representatives from Bayhealth will provide community members a chance to sign a steel beam from the new building. It will be installed at a topping off ceremony in May.
The 160-pound, 13-foot beam can be signed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. After the festival the beam will be in front of Bayhealth Milford Memorial for visitors and staff to sign. Construction workers will sign another beam at the construction site.
The new hospital is expected to open in 2019.
The opportunity to sign the last piece of the project is just one of the attractions at the 2017 Bug and Bud Festival.
Mary Betts from Milford’s Parks and Recreation Department is in charge of entertainment. She said kids should be pleased with the fun activities they have this year.
She said there will be three bounce houses, messenger pigeons, pony rides, carnival games and an arcade. Milford School District is bringing a petting zoo and Abbott’s Mill Nature Center will have animal demonstrations.
Betts said they’re adding a train to the mix. In past years little children rode a toddler-size train pulled by a lawn mower. This year they’re adding a larger train adults and kids can ride on.
“One of our vendors purchased a new train and said he wants to try it out at our festival,” Betts said.
The annual festival is hosted by Downtown Milford Incorporated, an organization dedicated to improving the city.
The festival grew from a effort by Milford children to convince the state to make the ladybug the Delaware state bug. Eventually, the bug and springtime buds led to the birth of the festival 14 years ago.
The community shows its pride at 9:30 a.m. when the parade starts and they march dressed as ladybugs and trees. There is a prize for the best costume in the both categories.
There’s also a prize for best pet costume.
Festival co-chair Pat Sparks said she expects about 9,000 people to come.
Doreen Wrightsman, who handles the food, said there are 16 vendors.
“We have two new [vendors] this year,” she said. “We’re having some Thai Food, which we haven’t had before, and we’re having some Asian food.”
Sparks said Milford Central Academy will lead the parade and students from Benjamin Banneker Elementary School will act a scene from the movie “Bugs.”
“In the past they have not been involved but this year they have stepped up,” Sparks said. “As we’re facing budget cuts there is a lot we’re going to lose if they start taking stuff out of the arts departments in the schools.”
The downtown festival is a showcase for different organizations and businesses.
“It’s a nice opportunity for people to see what else is available in the area,” Sparks said. “The festival also highlights Milford’s branding, which is River Town, Art Town Hometown.”
The festival has sentimental value for Fur Baby Boutique owner Sherry Shupe.
“It’s a great festival for the downtown but it’s also when we opened,” Shupe said. “Six years ago in 2011 we opened our doors for the first time at the Bug and Bud Festival.”
Shupe said she’s been participating ever since. She especially looks forward to marching in the pet parade and Fur Baby Boutique will bring out some of their adoptable pets and pass out treats and dog toys.
Store Manager Rebecca Nicholson said the festival attracts a new set of customers each year.
“It’s great for visibility,” she said. “A lot of people don’t even know we are here.”