Zombie Fest 2019 to be held at northbeach and Bottle & Cork

UPDATE: Milton Theatre's Zombie Fest 2019 will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19, at two Dewey Beach bars.

Traditionally, the festival has taken place in Milton, and organizers hoped to keep it that way. However, according to Milton Theatre marketing director John Lacap, the town council wouldn't allow a festival large enough to accommodate the over 5,000 people that attended last year and be financially viable.

The theatre announced the festival’s cancellation in August.

Many people expressed disappointment on social media. The festival got a big bump when actress and Wilmington native Aubrey Plaza posted a story about the cancellation on Twitter with “tragedy of all tragedies #miltonzombiesunite.”

“After the cancellation we received a lot of support online and a lot of neighboring towns wanted to transfer it to another location,” said Lacap.

On Monday, Sept. 23, the theatre announced their chosen location: Dewey Beach.

“We chose Dewey because they already had a lot of the stuff we needed,” Lacap said. “The stages, the sound equipment. And we can do the zombie walk between the two venues.”

The two venues are northbeach and the Bottle & Cork.

Zombie Fest kicks off at 4 p.m. at northbeach, where children are welcome. Entry is free for anyone under 12 and $10 for adults.

The festival will feature “zombifying” makeup stations, provided by the Delaware Learning Institute of Cosmetology, food and shopping vendors, street performers, costume contests, a KidsFest bounce house and a “Zombify Your Car” contest. Live music at northbeach includes Lower Case Blues, Kategory 5 and Indian River.

The zombie walk will take place at 8 p.m., proceeding east on Dagsworthy Street to the Bottle & Cork, where 3AM Tokyo will perform at an adults-only party.

Festival proceeds will still go to the original beneficiaries: the Milton Theatre capital campaign, Milton Public Library, Milton Fire Department and Milton Community Food Pantry.

For more information, visit miltontheatre.com.

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Sept. 3: Milton Theatre’s Zombie Fest 2019 was canceled after negotiations with the Town of Milton failed, but thanks to public outcry and the support of other towns, the show will go on.

A plan for the festival was approved in July by the Milton Town Council, but organizers say it wasn’t enough to make it “viable.”

The plan allowed Union Street, between Magnolia Street and the Federal/Union Street intersection, to close from 5 until 10 p.m., and four food trucks on Union Street from noon until 10 p.m. It also allowed for Union Street, extending to Atlantic Street, to be closed for the festival’s signature “zombie walk,” but only for a short time.

According to Milton Theatre marketing director John Lacap, that plan was only submitted as a last-ditch effort after talks with the town failed.

“Since March, we’d been going back and forth with them on what they would allow and, finally, we said ‘Can you tell us what it is that you will approve? And we will file the paperwork for that and we’ll see if we can make it work,’” Lacap said. “So that’s what they told us. No vendors, four food trucks, close the road only for the zombie walk.”

In comparison, the festival had eight food trucks last year and Lacap said they were running out of food. About 5,000 people attended.

“A larger event was submitted initially to the town,” said Town Manager Kristy Rogers. “After town staff review, it was determined the proposed plan would not logistically work in the downtown area.”

At the application deadline, Rogers had not clarified what wouldn’t work. However, at the July town council meeting, councilmember Emory West expressed discontent with having to close Union Street, before voting “with reservations” to allow the submitted plan.

Zombie Fest stood to benefit several charities. Organizers knew the approved plan was too small to make it successful, but they didn’t cancel immediately in hopes they could think of something creative enough to make it work.

“We knew a lot of people were looking forward to it,” Lacap said.

Ultimately, the theatre announced August 22 the cancellation on Facebook.

“In order to keep the festival free and in downtown Milton, and accommodate the crowds, closing a portion of Union Street for the day would have been necessary,” the post stated. “We came to the conclusion that it [would] be too downgraded, that it [would] no longer be able to pay for itself and still contribute to the charities involved.”

Many of the people who planned to attend the festival expressed their displeasure with the cancellation on social media. On Twitter, actress Aubrey Plaza, a Wilmington native, wrote “tragedy of all tragedies #miltonzombiesunite.”

Other towns started reaching out to the theatre to offer to host the beloved festival.

“After the cancellation we received a lot of support online and a lot of neighboring towns wanted to transfer it to another location,” Lacap said. “Right now there are two offers we are choosing from. We will probably have a decision at the end of this week or next.”

Zombie Fest will held on the original date of October 19 and will still benefit Milton charities.

“We’re very excited,” Lacap said. “But we are still disappointed it’s not going to be in Milton.”