Apple-Scrapple Festival this weekend

By Lynn R. Parks

Nearly two decades ago, when Bridgeville residents were looking for some kind of annual event to bring visitors to town, someone suggested an apple festival. Bridgeville native John Shockley, one of several people attending the organizational meeting, scoffed at the idea that the apple, which the festival would celebrate, was the town's biggest product. "I said that apples aren't our biggest product," said Shockley, who still lives in Bridgeville. "Scrapple is. And then I said, 'Maybe we can have an apple-scrapple festival.'" Everybody laughed. "I said it as a joke," Shockley said. "But then as the meeting went on, everybody sort of liked it." By the end of the meeting, plans for the town's first Apple-Scrapple Festival were under way. This weekend, Bridgeville will host its 16th Apple-Scrapple Festival. If last year's festival is any indication, about 35,000 people will attend. "After that first meeting, I wouldn't have given 50 cents for the idea of a festival in Bridgeville," Shockley said. "I thought, 'Who's going to come to little old Bridgeville, Del.?' Now, I'm so glad that I was proved wrong. I enjoy the festival so much, and enjoy seeing everyone come to Bridgeville." The annual festival is like a big town reunion, said Shockley; he and his wife are expecting their son, Scott Slacum, Millsboro, and two granddaughters, age 6 and 9, for the weekend. In addition two friends from Lewes will visit during the weekend, and might bring with them an additional two people. In anticipation of the festival and their guests, the Shockleys are decorating their Laws Street house with apples, pigs and bales of straw.

Food is a highlight of the festival
What is it that makes the Apple-Scrapple Festival so successful? "I think it's the food," said Shockley. Every year, the town's streets are lined with vendors, selling a variety of food including (of course) scrapple sandwiches and apple dumplings. Last year, several food booths were sold out by 6 Saturday evening, including the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Department's oyster fritter stand, a hot dog stand and a funnel cake stand. The apple dumpling stand closed at 3 in the afternoon after selling 3,500 dumplings. Chairwoman Bonnie Workman believes that the fact that many of the vendors are non-profit organizations is a big attraction. Apple dumpling sales benefit Mennonite mission trips and the Bridgeville Kiwanis and Lions clubs have food booths, as do many school, church and community groups. In addition, the three-day carnival benefits the Bridgeville Public Library. "It really pulls out a lot of people when they know they are helping non-profits," Workman said. Workman also believes that the rhyming festival name is a draw. "Every year we all sit around and wonder, how in the world did this happen?" she said. "I really think a big part of the attraction is the name. People really like it. And I think we pay attention to what the people want. They like buses so they can get around, and we provide that. And they like to have a lot of information so they know where to go, and we give them that." Festival organizers put together a booklet, widely available throughout the weekend, with schedules and information about events.

Scrapple chunkin' and slingin'
Or maybe the festival's attraction is in the fact that organizers have found ways to enjoy one of its two stars, scrapple, other than eating it. Those with competitive spirits are welcome to join in the scrapple carving contest in the morning and in the afternoon, the scrapple chunking contest. The festival also features an invitational scrapple throw, hosted by Town Commission president Joe Conaway for area politicians. "We have our Old Salem Days," said Dic Burbage, Salem, Va., who was watching the scrapple chunkin' a couple of years ago with his sister, Ruth Ann Marvel, Dagsboro. "But they are nothing like this. We'll have to find something to throw." "This is great fun," added Marvel, whose son Kyle, 10, competed in the scrapple chunk. "We've seen the crafts and eaten food, but this contest is definitely the highlight." The scrapple chunkin' will start at 1 p.m. in the field behind Woodbridge High School. Contestants will heave blocks of scrapple as far as they can – last year, high school track coach Charlie Gibbs threw his block of scrapple 110 feet to claim the men's division prize and Evonda Rooks, Bridgeville, threw the scrapple 73 feet to win the women's division. The Mayor's Scrapple Sling will get under way at 2 p.m. at the entertainment stage. Bridgeville Mayor Joe Conaway will be among those competing for the title, King of Sling.

The festival will start Friday afternoon at 4, when Pink Grass, a local, all-female bluegrass band, will take to the stage set up in the large parking lot behind the Bridgeville Fire Hall. At the same time that the women of Pink Grass are striking their first notes, a carnival, set up along Railroad Avenue, will swing into action. And in the food booths that will line the streets, oyster fritters, scrapple sandwiches and apple dumplings will go on sale. The two-day festival will go through Saturday night, closing with a street dance featuring the music of "Who's Ya Daddie?" In between, there will be craft fairs, a health fair, performances by Native American dancers, a car show and a motorcycle rally. Most of the proceeds will benefit non-profit organizations. Following Pink Grass, Cathy Gorman will perform. At 7 p.m., local favorite the Funsters will take to the stage, playing hits from the 1960s and 1970s. The activities will start at 7 Saturday morning when the all-you-can-eat breakfast, served by the United Methodist Men of Union United Methodist Church, starts. The breakfast will go until 11 a.m. At 9 a.m., the annual 5K Hogg Jogg will get under way. For the first time, the run will be held at the Woodbridge School District Athletic Complex on Adams Road. For information about the run, call coordinator Rob Perciful, 337-3176. Also at 9 a.m., most of the festival attractions, including the food court and the carnival, will open. A trade show will be set up along Delaware Avenue and Laws Street, featuring information about area businesses. Also on Delaware Avenue will be the festival's car show, sponsored by the Southern Delaware Street Rod Association. Typically, about 300 vehicles participate in the show. The health and safety fair will be set up in the Bridgeville Fire Hall. Festival chairwoman Bonny Workman said that this year's fair will be bigger than ever before. The festival's first motorcycle show, the Pig Out, will start at 10 a.m. at Cannon Cold Storage, at the intersection of West Market Street and U.S. 404. Sponsor is Harley-Davidson of Seaford. All proceeds from the bike show will benefit the Woodbridge School District. The profits will be divided between the district's endowed scholarship fund and its school uniform assistance program. The Apple-Scrapple Festival will feature three craft shows. Booths will be set up along Railroad Avenue and Walnut Street in the festival's outdoor craft show. St. Mary's Episcopal Church, William Street, will hold its annual craft show. And Trinity United Methodist Church west of Bridgeville will hold its craft show at Woodbridge High School. An old-fashioned tractor pull will be held in an empty field on Wesley Church Road, just west of town, starting at 11 a.m. Registration starts at 9 a.m. Chairman Jeff Mitchell expects the pull to attract about 60 tractors and for the event to feature about 100 pulls. Tractors will be divided into two classes: tractors built in 1959 and before, and tractors built from 1960 through 1972. But if a newer tractor shows up, "we will find some way to let him pull," Mitchell said. "We aim to please." Mitchell expects the pull to last until about 5 p.m. Back by popular demand will be Dynamite Championship Wrestling. The ring will be set up at Delaware Avenue and William Street and wrestlers will compete from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For complete information, you may visit www.dcwprowrestling.com. The Apple-Scrapple Festival's annual scrapple carving contest will start at 11 a.m. near the entertainment stage. Hopeful contestants will be given 1-pound blocks of scrapple and allowed to sculpt out of it whatever their imaginations come up with. Throughout the day, bands will perform on the stage. Everett Warrington and the No-Name Band will play from 9:15 to 10:15. The festival's talent show will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 and Sticky Situation will play from 11:30 to 1:30. At 3 p.m., after the Scrapple Sling and presentation of awards from the car show, Cherry Bud will take to the stage and play until 4 p.m. 5.01 will play from 4:30 to 6:30 and Who's Ya Daddie will take the stage at 7 p.m. Also throughout the day, children's games will be set up along Market Street, in front of the community playground. Representatives of the Nanticoke will perform native dances in the Bridgeville Park on Delaware Avenue. Festival parking will be in the large field on alternate U.S. 13 south of town. Shuttles will run throughout town. For more information, visit www.applescrapple.com.

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