WILMINGTON, Del. — New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon and Barry’s Event invite you to circle June 27 and 28 on your calendar to spend a day at the New Castle County Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park, back this year with even more of the region’s best ice cream and new attractions as well.
The annual festival, produced by Barry’s Events and sponsored by New Castle County government, will feature at least a dozen ice cream vendors, a scintillating selection of sandwiches and snacks, two entertainment stages, lots of fun for kids of all ages and Delaware’s first “Drone Zone,” with remote-controlled devices soaring overhead to capture all the weekend’s excitement.
Rockwood’s “Best Sundae on Sunday” competition, featured last year on an episode of the Food Network’s “Eating America” series, will return, with the “Moo Crew” from the University of Delaware’s UDairy Creamery defending its championship against a mix of new and familiar sundae servers.
The summer kickoff celebration, named last year by USA Today as one of the nation’s top ten food festivals, is “Delaware’s largest family picnic,” producer Barry Schlecker says, with free admission for children 12 and under accompanied by an adult, as well as family-friendly prices for all food, and activities to keep families at the park all day long.
The festival has been rebranded this year, changing its name from “Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park” to “New Castle County Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park,” to better emphasize its prominence as an entertaining and social event for residents of New Castle County and nearby areas.
“The Ice Cream Festival is definitely the premier event that we hold each summer,” says New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon, who will present the Executive’s Bowl to the Best Sundae winner. “It is a major draw for residents and visitors alike, and it’s a great way to show off what an asset Rockwood is.”
County Councilman John Cartier, whose district encompasses Rockwood, says the mansion and park is a great place for New Castle County to hold events.
“I am delighted to see the Ice Cream festival will take place here once again,” Cartier said. “It is a favorite event with people all over the county. I thank County Executive Gordon for continuing this great event.”
Participating dairies and ice cream vendors include: UDairy Creamery, the Ice Cream Shoppe (second place in the 2014 Best Sundae contest), Sweet Lucy’s (third place last year), plus returnees Caffe Gelato, HyPoint Farms, Kilby Cream, Tocumbo and Cajun-Sno, and four newcomers from Pennsylvania, Yeungling’s Ice Cream, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, iSwich Gourmet and Punk’d Pineapple, as well as one from New Jersey, Battiato Farms Strawberry Milkshakes. Little Baby’s and Punk’d Pineapple offer lactose-free ice creams and Punk’d Pineapple has vegan offerings as well. iSwich Gourmet says its ice cream is made without any preservatives.
Last year’s participants are already hard at work planning their exotic creamery concoctions and our newcomers are readying for a challenge unlike any they’ve ever faced before.
A lot of the planning is top-secret in nature. Just ask Ted Brackin of Sweet Lucy’s. “You know that old saying, ‘I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you,’” he says. “This is serious business, and I can’t let the cat out of the bag.”
In addition to the ice cream vendors, festival visitors will be able to choose from many food options – burgers, ribs, cheesesteak, seafood, Mexican, Greek, Italian, Polish, Cajun and vegetarian, plus egg rolls, baked goods, water ice and food trucks.
A new feature this year is the “drone zone,” hosted by Skygear Solutions, where visitors will be able to monitor activities throughout the festival captured on video cameras mounted on drones flying overhead.
The expanded Children’s Zone will have its own entertainment stage, face painting, plenty of interactive activities, rides and games. Live animals, trapeze artists, stilt walkers and jugglers will add to the fun all around the park.
The Music Meadow will be filled with diverse sounds, with a different group performing every hour – rock, jazz, folk, classical, something to please every musical taste.
Main Street Rockwood will feature more than 50 local businesses, including crafters, artists and retailers, as well as a number of nonprofit organizations. Another 20 businesses will be sharing tent space. In conjunction with New Castle County’s “Buy from Your Neighbor” program, the Ice Cream Festival promotes purchasing goods and services from locally owned and operated businesses.
“Bring your own blanket and plan to stay all day long,” Schlecker says.
For an updated schedule of all performances and a list of festival participants, go to rockwoodicecream.com
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 27, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 28. Admission is $5 for adults, with children 12 and under and accompanied by an adult admitted for free. Free shuttle bus service will be provided between Rockwood and parking lots at Merchants Square, Mount Pleasant High School and the Rockwood Office Park. The festival is dog-friendly. Friendly dogs on leashes are welcome at the festival and on our shuttle buses.
About Barry’s Events
Barry’s Events, founded by Wilmington entrepreneur Barry Schlecker, produces the annual WilmFilm Festival, held the last weekend in April; the New Castle County Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood, held the last weekend in June; the Brandywine Festival of the Arts, held the weekend after Labor Day; and A Taste of the Holidays, held in December.