WonderFest, Delaware’s biggest holiday event, will return to Hudson Fields for its sixth season from Friday, Nov. 19, through Sunday, Jan. 2, with a drive-through experience showcasing exciting new Sussex County-themed light displays. Produced by the charitable organization Festival of Cheer Inc., the annual holiday tradition has raised over $557,000 to support Sussex County charities since 2016.
The community is invited to the WonderFest Community Kick-Off at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Rusty Rudder, in Dewey Beach. Guests will learn about volunteer and sponsor opportunities, and be the first to hear the exciting plans for WonderFest 2021. Additionally, Team WonderFest will be celebrating the 13 Sussex County nonprofits which were awarded grants to purchase critically needed equipment for their operations. Light fare will be provided.
John Snow, Festival of Cheer president, said, “It’s not a surprise that 2020 brought distinctive challenges to every home, business, and nonprofit in the region. WonderFest was no exception. However, our sponsors, volunteers and patrons rallied with unprecedented levels of support to ensure the festival brightened the spirits of over 80,000 attendees. Additionally, 2020 proved to be a transformative season for WonderFest – and one which marks a new era for our nonprofit.”
WonderFest 2020 celebrated a record-breaking season, with 18,000 vehicles of patrons enjoying the dazzling Light Spectacular resulting in $50,000 being raised to support the WonderFest Community Grant Program benefiting Sussex County nonprofits. Additionally, $145,000 was allocated to eliminate operational debts related to the charity’s expansion and relocation of the festival.
Due to WonderFest experiencing tremendous growth since 2018, organizers are preparing to produce a festival which can safely welcome over 100,000 visitors and increase its investment in local nonprofits via the Community Grant Program. With another year of predicted significant attendance growth, WonderFest will remain a drive-through only experience for 2021. Organizers hope to secure an additional venue for the return of other attractions in future seasons.
Festival of Cheer members John Snow, Hank Rosenberg and Peter Briccotto are thrilled to welcome Tessa Lingo to the board of directors to assist with the evolution of the festival. Lingo is a resident of Rehoboth Beach and a 2000 graduate of Cape Henlopen High School, and she has been immersed in the community growing up at the beach. For the past 18 years, Lingo has been a long-standing pillar with Delaware Beach Life magazine. With her husband, Jack, and their two sons, they’ve enjoyed the joy of WonderFest every year since its inception.
Lingo said, “I’m honored to join such an incredibly devoted charitable organization, and am looking forward to helping spread the magic of this wonderful winter event.”