Sussex County Delaware

Seaford Reschedules
Riverfest for June
Poultry Industry ...

Riverfest to Replace
Lost Chicken Festival

Organizers of the cancelled Delmarva Chicken Festival in Seaford have decided to replace the June 21-22 event by moving up the city's annual Riverfest from the month of August.

City officials learned last week that the chicken festival would be cancelled this year due to concerns over an Avian Flu outbreak in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina that they feared could be spread to Delmarva chicken houses by festival attendees.

Faced with the loss of such a large festival, Seaford festival organizers decided to reschedule the 8th annual Riverfest and bring in many of the same attractions that had been scheduled for the chicken festival.

Seaford Mayor Dan Short said he hopes the change in the date will give a boost to Riverfest, which typically draws 10,000 people compared to the 30,000 expected for the chicken festival.

Riverfest activities will be held in downtown Seaford and parts of Blades.

The Delmarva Chicken Festival is already scheduled for other towns through 2006, so the earliest Seaford could host the festival again would be 2007.

When the chicken festival was cancelled last week, Bill Satterfield, executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., said, "... with the welfare of Delmarvašs chicken industry at stake, our Board feels the action is imperative. The festival is intended to promote Delmarvašs chicken industry, but with avian influenza continuing to spread, it was the consensus that the best way to promote the industry was to keep it disease-free."

While avian flu doesn't affect humans, it can be carried on shoes, clothing, vehicles and through the air and could be spread to poultry houses.

No cases of the flu have been found in Delmarva's billion-dollar poultry industry, but it has infected birds in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, West Virginia and North Carolina.

Avian flu causes chickens to become listless and drink less water. They eventually become sick and die. Infected flocks are destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading to other flocks.

This marks only the second cancellation in the festival's 54-year history. It was also cancelled in 1984 due to avian flu concerns.

The DPI also postponed its annual banquet last month over concerns that the flu could be spread among the 1,600 guests.

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