The 2018 Ultimate Guide to Annual Events in Delaware
What does this calendar say about our fine little state? That we have a blast.
Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after taming the Monster Mile.
This New Year’s Day parade down Broad and Main streets in Middletown is as whacky an event as you’ll find. Locals (as in anyone who wants to participate) spoof politicians, the year’s biggest news stories and anything else that strikes them. During the 2018 edition, a group placed a bulls-eye on an airline that had physically thrown passengers off the plane (not while in flight, thank goodness). The imaginary Hummers Airlines’ motto? “We put the hospital in hospitality.” The parade has been around for more than 30 years and it’s still going … well, it’s still going.
On the last Friday of February, revelers dressed in flannel shirts slurp steamed and raw oysters, enjoy a “few” beers and clog to live bluegrass music at the male-only Georgetown Fire Company’s annual Oyster Eat fundraiser. Not to be outdone, ladies do their thing the same night at the Lewes Fire Department’s Shrimp Feast, also a fundraiser. They say it’s a wilder party than the Oyster Eat. We’re not touching that one with a 75-foot ladder.
One of Kent County’s biggest shindigs celebrates Delaware history in the state capital with a parade, historic re-enactments, vintage car rides, and more than 200 craft and food vendors. This is one event that just never gets old. Visit the historic Green to watch children in Colonial attire dance around the Maypole. Keep in mind that Delaware Public Archives is open on First Saturdays. Stop in and check out the “Great War & The First State” exhibition, which includes the bell and nameplate from the USS Battleship Delaware.
NASCAR’s best launch their stock cars at the one-mile, high-banked track at Dover International Speedway dubbed the Monster Mile. This event marks the 49th year that Dover has hosted NASCAR’s top circuit. The triple-header includes a Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, an XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash contest on Saturday and the 400-mile Monster Energy Cup Series race on Sunday. They’ll do it all again Oct. 5-7, which includes a playoff race for the big boys. Be sure to say hi to Miles the Monster. That’s a life-size car he’s squeezing in his concrete clutches.
If you’re into a more peaceful form of racing, attend the Point-to-Point steeplechase event at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Wilmington. It’s a beautiful place to be and this grand First State tradition turns 40 this year. So make it a point (get it?) to tailgate with the who’s who and enjoy a day at the races. We can’t get enough of watching those horses soar gracefully over the jumps. You may even catch a glimpse of Martha Stewart. No word on whether Snoop will attend.
Delaware boasts its fair share of ethnic festivals and they are all first-class affairs. These include festivals by the Polish, Hispanic, African-Americans, Greeks, Chinese and American Indians, as well as a couple St. Patrick’s Day parades. We’ll use the Italian Festival to represent the quality of these traditions. Thousands of folks, whether they are Italian-American or simply Italian at heart, celebrate the Old Country during this week long festival held in—where else?—Wilmington’s Little Italy. Attendees enjoy amazing food, live entertainment, vendors and amusement rides. If you go, be sure to take a guided tour of beautiful St. Anthony of Padua Church, a Delaware and national historic landmark.
Firefly is the largest music and camping festival on the East Coast (around 90,000 fans attend each year to see more than 100 bands). Headliners for year No. 7 are Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys and The Killers. Past acts have included Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. The four-day festival features nine stages, a ton of entertainment opportunities and food and drink galore. It is held at The Woodlands near Dover International Speedway.
If you like “Beer for Your Horses,” you should saddle up and head to this year’s state fair, where country star Toby Keith is just one of the big acts on tap. The 10-day event in Harrington features grandstand events such as a demolition derby and harness racing. Other well-known performers include ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and a Southern Uprising featuring Travis Tritt, The Marshall Tucker Band, the Charlie Daniels Band and The Outlaws. You haven’t truly experienced the fair until you stop by the livestock area to pet something. Duck into the casino to get some whiskey for your men and … you know the rest of the tune.
Kids can’t resist the critter touch tank at UD’s Coast Day.
Each October, the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment puts its best flipper forward by opening its campus and facilities to the public. The area at the end of Pilottown Road is one of the coolest in town, providing a view of the sprawling Great Marsh, Canary Creek and Roosevelt Inlet, where the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal meets the Broadkill. The kids can’t resist the critter touch tanks, where they can touch live horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and even dogfish sharks—if they dare. The event could be called Culinary Coast Day, as it features a Crab Cake Cook-Off and a Seafood Chowder Challenge. Of course, this is only the tip of the dorsal fin. There is much more to do.
This only-in-Delaware, 100-plus-year-old event is held the Thursday after an election on The Circle in Georgetown—pronounced by we true Sussex Countians as Jarge-town. It’s kind of exciting to watch winners and losers bury the hatchet (they actually cover a hatchet with sand) and parade together in carriages while we political pundits enjoy freshly roasted ox and a beer.