New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon heralded the approach of the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival with Barry Schlecker, the festival's organizer, and predicted up to 80,000 people would attend the event during a press conference held Tuesday at Rockwood Park, the site of the festival.
"This is all about a great relationship," Gordon said. "When we used to run Rockwood before, it was run solely by the county government. And, I think it's going to be much more enriched."
Gordon said he looked forward to working with Schlecker and to welcoming possibly up to 80,000 people to the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival.
In addition, he reiterated his pledge to restore not just the festival's place as one of the largest festivals in Delaware but Rockwood Park's status as a park available to county and city of Wilmington residents to enjoy. Gordon said a lot of building maintenance had been neglected in the past eight years, but repairs to Rockwood Mansion's roof had begun as part of his commitment to address deteriorating infrastructure.
"They can come out here and actually pretend they're enjoying this beautiful mansion as though it were theirs," Gordon said. "The museum is an exceptional place right outside the city of Wilmington."
He said the Victorian-era mansion is an "architectural gem," built in 1851.
New Castle County Councilman John Cartier (D-Holly Oak) said the Ice Cream Festival would become great again, and he thanked the County Executive for the role he has played in its restoration.
Councilman Bob Weiner (R-Chatham), whose district included Rockwood before council's expansion, said he and Cartier were both committed to working with the Gordon administration to ensure Rockwood's splendor was restored.
Schlecker, of Barry's Events, said he looked forward to partnering with the county again as he managed the Ice Cream Festival for the second straight year.
"I making it official today; we're going to call this Delaware's largest family picnic," Schlecker said. "Because that's what it's all about – getting people here all day to eat, visit and shop."
Event set for June 29 and 30
The Ice Cream Festival is scheduled for June 29 and 30. It will feature more than 200 exhibitors and vendors, live music, kids' activities, arts and crafts, museum tours, food provided by local restaurants and, of course, ice cream from several of the area's best dairies.
The Friends of Rockwood, the staff of Rockwood Museum and Park and the employees of New Castle County's Departments of Special Services and Community Service will assist Schlecker in putting on the festival.
New Castle County Community Services General Manager Alan Matas said restoring Rockwood and the Ice Cream Festival was a tribute to Gordon and Schlecker.