By David Hazledine
MILFORD — By some estimates, the town of Milford may have nearly doubled its population of roughly 1,800 on May 29 as crowds of people keen to shed COVID-19 fears and enjoy free carnival rides streamed in for Milford Family Fun Fest.
Despite the crowds, Milford Police Chief Derek Kreider reported no major problems other than those related to the traffic — including one minor pedestrian accident — and locals’ complaints about some visitors’ choices of parking spots. “It was uneventful for the most part. People seemed to have a good time,” he said.
Milford Town Council Vice President Ken Long was pleased with the results. “It was a fantastic day with lots of smiling faces,” he exclaimed. “We’re fortunate everybody came together … vendors, local businesses, residents … everybody came out and got the summer started.”
Organizer Tom Beer of Beer and Jessop Amusements, a Milford-based company, which has provided rides and vending since the event was started as “Milford Fest” in 2008 by Milford Lions Club, reckoned the crowd was “bigger than we ever had.”
“Every one of the food vendors on Emeline Street sold out,” he noted. Beer, who assumed organizational responsibilities when the Lions canceled in February due to uncertainties related to COVID-19, summed the event up as “Milford’s Hallmark movie for a day.”
Brenda Bethel, a Milford Lion who has served on the Milford Fest committee since 2008, credited Beer with helping to “keep the tradition going,” after the pandemic restrictions shut down the event in 2020.
The day started with Milford Kiwanis pancake and sausage breakfast at 7 a.m., “and it never stopped,” said Long. The breakfast was followed by Milford Volunteer Fire Department’s rib-eye sandwich barbecue, which was soon sold out of all 500 steaks.
Friends of Milford Public Library book sale was also open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while just outside the Classic Car Cruise-In benefited from the clear skies.
Just around the corner, Milford First Brethren Church welcomed visitors with free hot dogs and drinks, and the town-wide garage sale, which started Friday and will continue through Monday, May 31, provided still more interest.
From noon to 8 p.m., the free carnival rides, arts and crafts and food vendors were in full swing. Among the vendors was Kosciusko Lodge 418, serving ice cream, and Miotto’s Main Street Pizza.
A new addition in 2021 was the Indiana National Guard, which set up a rock climbing wall overseen by guardsmen and enjoyed by dozens throughout the day.
“We’ve got to get back to our normal lives at some point in time,” Beer stated, before adding, “See you next year.”