The 10th annual Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Festival is set for Saturday, May 25, in Milton's Memorial Park and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
Each year, the festival is timed to correspond with the arrival of horseshoe crabs and shorebirds to the area. During May and June, the Delaware Bay hosts the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world and the second largest population of migrating shorebirds in North America. The festival is a time to celebrate the annual rite of passage and the ecological importance of this area to these and many other natural resources.
At Memorial Park, visitors can learn what's happening in nature from many exhibits that show how to appreciate and protect the natural world. Exhibitors include Delaware Center for Inlands Bays, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 12-02, Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute and more. Horseshoe crab activities, such as painting crab shells, will be offered to children of all ages throughout the day as well as a scavenger hunt and rides on the Lions Club train. Rides are only 25 cents.
Cruises down the Broadkill River for folks 12 and older will take off from the Milton docks throughout the day. The ride will take about 40 minutes and donations of $5 are suggested. For those looking to soar through the clouds, a one-hour flight over Delmarva with pilot John Chirtea will be raffled off for $5 per ticket. Tickets may be purchased at the Milton Farmers' Market Friday, May 24 or at the hospitality table at the festival May 25.
Dozens of craft and food vendors will also be on hand.
Free shuttles will be offered throughout the day to take guests to and from Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, where a bevy of activities will be offered as well.
At 10 a.m., a guided canoe trip will take folks on a 3-mile journey to explore the ecology of Prime Hook Creek. Only one trip will be offered and it is limited to 12 canoes. To pre-register, call the refuge at 302-684-8419.
For those looking for fun family activities, archery experts will be on hand to teach anyone 8 and older the basics. Parents are encouraged to participate with their children.
Throughout the day, children may also construct bluebird nest boxes, learn about and interact with horseshoe crabs in at the touch tank and discover the fascinating world of insects by netting and identifying the bug life of Prime Hook.
Coinciding with this year's festival are a number of other events. At 7 p.m., Friday, May 24, in the big tent in the park, the Milton Theatre will present "The Horseshoe Crab Murder Mystery," an original tale created by the theater. Then at 1 p.m., Sunday, May 26, the theater will offer "A Walk in the Woods," a fractured fairy tale performance for all ages performed by the Second Street Players.
At the Lydia B. Cannon Museum, beginning May 24, the Milton Arts Guild will display the Art of Nature festival art show and sale. All works are original art by local artists.
The festival is sponsored by the Milton Chamber of Commerce and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, go to www.historicmilton.com.