Well, it's autumn here in beautiful southern Delaware and those of you familiar with the area know that means one thing - it's time for some of the country's greatest and most enjoyable fall festivals!
To our media friends who have been here many times before, you know what I mean. But for those of you not as familiar with all we have going in what I like to call the "BER Months," you know SeptemBER, OctoBER and DecemBER, here is a quick rundown on three festivals that the American Bus Association (ABA) last year named to the "Top 100" list in the United States. I've also included a quick rundown on a one-of-a-kind festival that everyone, not only in the mid-Atlantic, but around the country, should experience at least once.
First up on the calendar is the Apple Scrapple Festival, held each year in the western Sussex County town of Bridgeville (this year, the festival is slated for Oct. 12-13). For all of you who have traveled to our beaches in the summertime, Bridgeville is the small town that you enter when you take Route 404 East toward Lewes and Rehoboth Beach (you've probably noticed the big RAPA Scrapple sign as you cross the railroad tracks). Combining the town's two largest commodities - T.S. Smith apple orchards and the aforementioned RAPA Scrapple - the festival features live entertainment, a scrapple-carving contest, a car show and much more, including a unique contest pitting mayors of the surrounding areas in a revolving scrapple-themed competition.
Not long after Apple Scrapple comes one of the most family-friendly festivals you will find anywhere, and it's at the beach! The Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler's Festival (Oct. 26-28) is organized by the Rehoboth-Dewey Area Chamber of Commerce and provides fun for the entire family. The highlight of the festival is the parade down Rehoboth Avenue that features costumed children - and children at heart - who have dressed up for the day and really get into the spirit of things. Several Macy's Thanksgiving Parade type balloons are also part of the parade, which is a must see if coming in town for the event. There is also a broom tossing contest on the beach, pony shows, the Sea Witch Hunt and safe trick or treating for the youngsters. And don't forget the pet parade on Sunday - gotta love those pets all dressed up for the occasion. On a side note, this festival is also the favorite event for the Diehl girls (my two lovely daughters), who have been known to ask me a week later if we can "go and see the Sea Witch again daddy?" Sure, we can girls, but not for another year (that's hard to explain to a 4-year-old).
The third installment on the ABA's list is what some like to call "the greatest redneck party in Delaware." And there may be no better description for the phenomenon that is the World Championship Punkin Chunkin (Nov. 2-4) event, now held near Bridgeville (because organizers outgrew their old location near the beach). It's kind of hard to describe this event - just think larger than life air cannons loudly propelling old Halloween pumpkins up to a mile through the air, all in an effort to one-up your opponents and go home with the coveted crown of "World Champion Chunker." Now televised nationally on the Discovery Channel, the event began as just a few local men tossing pumpkins around a field in 1986, and has now grown into the global event that it is today. Participants come from all over the world these days to see how far they can shoot the orange gourds across an open field.
Though not named to the ABA's list (maybe because it's only held every two years) is the unique gathering that is Return Day in southern Delaware (Nov. 8). Held in the Sussex County Seat of Georgetown, the event dates back to 1792 and features a parade and festival two days after Election Day. Stemming from colonial times when the public would congregate in the county seat two days after the election to hear the results read by the town crier, the day is marked by a traditional parade around The Circle, an ox roast and a ceremonial burial of the hatchet by leaders of the county's political parties. Some say the First State's rather cordial political climate is a result of Return Day, where opponents ride together in the same horse drawn carriage, shake hands and pledge to work together moving forward for the betterment of the state. It is a festival that everyone should attend at least once - and you won't find it anywhere else but in southern Delaware!
So come and see us this fall and take home a whole bunch of memories or, for my friends in the media, a bounty of fresh story ideas. Leave me a comment here or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or if you just want to chat about upcoming events (or about anything really). Enjoy the fall everyone!