Delaware was the first of the original thirteen colonies to ratify the Constitution of the United States on December 7, 1787, making it the first state to officially join the union. The population of Delaware is just over 970,000, and at only 96 miles long and between 9 and 35 miles wide, the state ranks 49th in the country in terms of total area. But even though the Diamond State is small, it boasts many unique things that make it stand out from the rest of the 50 states in the union. Here are six of those things—some you might want to see and experience for yourself when you next visit the country’s first state.
Delawareans like to throw their food.
The small city of Bridgeville, Delaware is home to only about 2,300 people, but it’s famous for two huge events that take place each year—the World Championship Punkin’ Chunkin’ Association’s (WCPCA) event and the Apple Scrapple Festival.
During the Punkin’ Chunkin’ event, more than 100 teams construct launching devices designed to sling gourds into the air. Teams build everything from catapults and air cannons to trebuchets and everything in between. If it can send a pumpkin into orbit, chances are it’s permitted in the competition. Flying pumpkins may sound a bit scary, but the Punkin’ Chunkin’ competition is wildly popular among Delawareans.
The annual Apple Scrapple Festival usually takes place during the second weekend of October, and just like the Punkin’ Chunkin’ event, it’s very popular and very well attended. This region of Delaware relishes both its apples and its scrapple. (Scrapple—in case you weren’t familiar—is scraps of meat—often pork—that are stewed with cornmeal, then formed into loaves, sliced up and fried.) And—you guessed it—this event is yet another food slinging event of sorts. The very first Apple Scrapple Festival took place in 1992. There are different competitions that make up the festival, such as the Scrapple Chunkin’ Contest, the Mayor’s Scrapple Sling and for the ladies only—the Iron Skillet Toss. So perhaps Delawareans not only like to throw their food, but their pots and pans as well!
No National Park Service—until just recently
Since the inception of the United States National Park Service in 1916 until 2013, the state of Delaware had never had any National Park System units within its borders, which meant there were no national parks in Delaware. There were no national seashores, no national memorials, no national monuments, no historical sites, and no battlefields.
But all of that changed in 2013 when the First State National Monument was established. The monument encompasses the Woodland property—a 1,100-acre tract of land that was originally set aside for preservation more than 100 years ago by its owner, William Bancroft. Bancroft was a philanthropist and a textile manufacturer who had hoped the land would be turned into a park one day. Other sites are also included in the only National Park Service unit to be located in the state of Delaware.
Methodism was born here.
Barratt’s Chapel is located north of the town of Frederica in Kent County, Delaware. It is considered the “cradle of Methodism” because it is the place where the Methodist Episcopal Church was first organized. The chapel was built on land donated by Phillip Barratt—a prominent landowner and political figure in the area. He wanted to build a center for the growing Methodist movement in Delaware.
Barratt’s Chapel Museum includes original artifacts that give insight into the history of Methodism. Original furniture from the chapel is on display, as are hymnals, books, and even an organ. The chapel is open for tours on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is no charge for the tours, but if you’re visiting with a group of six or more, the museum kindly requests advance notice.
The gorgeous Rehoboth Beach Resort
Rehoboth Beach in eastern Sussex County is Delaware’s largest coastal town and home to only about 1,500 residents. One of the first resort beauty pageants ever was held here, and Thomas Edison was one of the judges! The town has become a favorite getaway spot for families as well. Even though it’s small—only 1.64 square miles—Rehoboth Beach has something for everyone to enjoy. The beautiful beach along the waters of the Atlantic is just the beginning.
The boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach is full of shops, galleries, restaurants, and bars, and there are even other family entertainment venues like Funland—an amusement park with 18 rides, 13 midway games, an arcade and an electronic shooting gallery. Rides are enjoyed on a “pay as you go” basis, and each ride requires tickets that are available for purchase at two ticket booths in the park. Tickets are $0.40 each, $18 for a 50-ticket book or $30 for a 100-ticket book. Smaller rides cost between one and three tickets, and the larger, more thrilling rides cost between four and six tickets. Funland is open from the end of May to early September. For information about Funland, visit www.rehobothfunland.com.
Rehoboth Beach and the town of Lewes, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island comprise Delaware’s beach resorts. The beaches generate almost $7 billion a year and more than $710 million in tax revenue.
Hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs!
Delaware Bay is home to more horseshoe crabs than anywhere else on earth. Maybe that’s why the horseshoe crab was named Delaware’s official marine animal in 2002.
The crabs visit the Delaware Bay shore for spawning every year. On May 31, 2018, over 380,000 horseshoe crabs lined the beaches in Delaware to spawn. The entire 2018 spawning season saw over 1.675 million of the curiously shaped crabs coming to spawn on the Delaware shores.
Delawareans don’t have to wait for their YouTube videos to buffer.
If your job, hobbies, gaming or other interests keep you parked in front of your laptop or desktop, surfing the waves of the world wide web from sun-up to sundown, you might consider relocating to Delaware (if they have room for you in their tiny state). That’s because according to a 2015 study, Delawareans enjoy the luxury of having the fastest internet speeds in the United States. The study also showed that the internet speeds in Delaware are higher than in every other country in the study—with the exception of South Korea. If you’re a diehard YouTube binge watcher, you’ll love Delaware! The internet speeds are so fast that you won’t even have to wait for those videos to buffer. What a wonderful place Delaware must be!