Every spring, Milford welcomes thousands for a day of parading, games and activities that honor nature and the state's insect, the ladybug, at the beloved Bug & Bug Festival in downtown.
Every spring, Milford welcomes thousands for a day of parading, games and activities that honor nature and the state’s insect, the ladybug, at the beloved Bug & Bug Festival in downtown.
New festival fun
The 11th annual Bug and Bud Festival, presented by Downtown Milford, Inc. and the Milford Parks & Recreation Department, will take shape this Saturday, offering new festival features, along with popular attractions, for a crowd of approximately 9,000 people.
Debuting at this year’s festival will be an official competition for the best-dressed pet, which will earn the winner $50.
"Some of the pets last year were just incredible, so we decided to make this a category,” said Marilyn Ambrose, co-coordinator of the Bug & Bud Festival.
Additionally, an officer with the Milford Police Department will arrive with one of the department’s K-9s for a special demonstration.
"We were just trying to look for a new activity that people might enjoy,” Ambrose said. "We’re kind of excited about that.”
With Saturday being Milford Mayor Joseph Rogers’ final day in office, he’ll enjoy his swansong as the festival’s Grand Marshall. Rogers will get to cruise along in a golf cart in the Bug & Bud parade, something that hasn’t been done before in the festival’s history, Ambrose said.
"This will be his farewell and we wanted to honor him,” Ambrose said.
In keeping with tradition, the Bug & Bud parade − beginning at 9:45 a.m. at Calvary United Methodist Church − will kick off with the festival band, featuring musicians from the Milford Community Band. Kids and adults are encouraged to wear their best ladybug and tree costumes at the parade, and the winner of each category will win $50.
Other festival highlights will include 100-plus arts and crafts, and food vendors and the Kid’s Korner (featuring games and inflatables at Bicentennial Park). Each hour entertainers will perform at Milford Public Library’s amphitheater (from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). There will be free paddle boat rides (at the Vinyard Shipyard), a chalk art contest (on the basketball court near the Milford Public Library), as well as a children’s art exhibit at the Mispillion Art League.
For about three years now, the Mispillion Art League has been showcasing ladybug and nature-themed artwork from elementary school students in the Milford School District.
"We don’t really have any other times [throughout the year] that we show young children’s art, so this is nice,” said Judy Struck, president of the Mispillion Art League.
It’s always inspiring to see what the youngsters create for the festival, Struck said.
"Their pieces are really bright and colorful and show a fresh point of view,” she said. "I think much of the time adults are locked into our realism. But the kids just draw and go into it with their whole heart.”
40 years with the ladybug
This year marks the 40th anniversary of when the ladybug was crowned to represent Delaware as the state’s insect.
The origin of the Bug & Bud Festival dates back to 1974 when second graders at Lulu Ross Elementary School decided the First State deserved a state insect. The students, along with their teacher Mollie Brown-Rust, petitioned the legislature to designate the ladybug as the state bug. Then the rest was history. However, there was a point when the mosquito was actually up for consideration as the state’s insect.
"I’m so glad we chose the ladybug rather than the mosquito,” Ambrose said.
Ambrose admires those students at Lulu Ross for having the courage to fight for a state insect.
"They deserve a lot of credit,” she said. "Those kids learned a lesson that I’m sure they’ve never forgotten.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT 11th annual Bug & Bud Festival
WHEN 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday
WHERE Downtown Milford
COST Free admission
INFO Visit downtownmilford.org or call (302) 839-1180