Thousands crowd into Bridgeville for 20th Apple Scrapple Festival

By Lynn R. Parks

For the 20th year in a row, thousands of people crowded into Bridgeville last weekend for the Apple-Scrapple Festival. Skies were blue, the air was cool and scrapple sandwiches and apple dumplings were kings of the day.

Ive never had a scrapple sandwich before, said Elsie Henderson, standing in line to buy two of the delicacies, one for herself and one for her husband, Bob. They smell really good. Im hoping that they taste good.

The Hendersons traveled from their home in Wilmington to attend the festival. I definitely would come back, Elsie said. Its really big! It definitely was worth the drive.

After their lunch, she and Bob, who was standing next door in the apple dumpling line, planned to continue strolling through town and looking at all the sights. Its all good, Elsie said.

The booth at which Elsie planned to buy her scrapple sandwich was manned by volunteers with the Woodbridge Music Boosters, raising money to support music programs in the Woodbridge School District. Bob Lewis, band director at the middle school, said that the boosters had 900 pounds of scrapple, all donated by Bridgevilles own Rapa Scrapple. Late Saturday morning, they were well on their way toward selling out, he added.

We hope to be done here by 5 this evening, he said. We have sold out as early as 4 oclock before.

The first Apple-Scrapple Festival was held in October 1992. That year, about 2,500 people came to town to see the sights. Recent crowds have been estimated at around 30,000.

The festival does two things for the community, organizers say. First, it offers a venue for local service groups to make money. Kiwanis and Lions clubs chapters sell oyster and scrapple sandwiches and the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Department sells barbecued beef sandwiches. The three-day carnival benefits the Bridgeville Public Library.

Second, it draws attention to the areas agricultural roots. Both apples and scrapple are produced in town and T.S. Smith and Sons orchards and packing house, founded in 1907, and Rapa Scrapple, founded in 1924, are major sponsors of the festival.

Down the street from where the Hendersons were standing in line, volunteers with the Bridgeville Senior Center were also selling scrapple sandwiches. Volunteer Jim Smith said that that booth also had 900 pounds of the meat product donated by Rapa. That would make about 2,500 sandwiches, he said.

Well sell out; we always sell out, he said. Weve been out here since 4:30 this morning. But we dont mind its for a good cause.

Crystal Hudson and her two daughters, Abigail, 10, and Faith, 7, all from Millsboro, were standing in the senior center booths line. They had at least a 15-minute wait ahead of them.

But that was OK, Crystal said: My youngest really wants a scrapple sandwich.

The three planned to visit the fire hall, where the fire department was fingerprinting and photographing children for identification kits. They were also going to go to the craft show at Woodbridge High School, sponsored by Trinity United Methodist Church, eat apple dumplings and french fries and, of course, hit the carnival. I like the rides, especially the fast ones, Faith said. My sister likes the games.

Margaret Slack and Judi Thompson, both from Georgetown, visit the festival every year. On Saturday, they stood on Cannon Street, between the food booths and the main stage, and shared an apple dumpling. In a plastic bag at their feet were four dumplings that they were taking home with them.

They are absolutely delicious, Slack said.

Thompson said that the Apple-Scrapple Festival stands out because of all there is to do there. In addition to eating, the women had also visited the festivals several craft shows. And everybody is so pleasant, Thompson added.

At the apple dumpling stand where Thompson and Slack had bought their treat, D.J. Sharp of Greenwood scooped ice cream onto the pastry and fruit concoction. Volunteers with the Grace Fellowship Church in Greenwood, which benefited from the booths sales, had made 5,000 dumplings, he said. Like the scrapple sandwich booths, he expected this booth to sell out by mid-afternoon.

In addition to food, crafts and the carnival, the festival also featured a car show. The Bridgeville Museum, manned by volunteers with the Bridgeville Historical Society, was open and a small encampment of Civil War reenactors was set up next door in the Bridgeville Park.

And then there were the competitions. T.S. Smith and Sons sponsored a baking contest, a 5K run started off the day Saturday and that afternoon, both the Ladies Skillet Toss and the Scrapple Chunking, a signature event of the festival, were held in the yard behind the high school.

On the Scrapple Chunking field, Mark Dufendach, last years champion, threw the 5-pound block of scrapple 122 feet and 4 inches to reclaim the crown in the mens division. His wife, Debby, won the womens prize with a throw of 59 feet. Not to be outdone, their son, Andrew, walked away with the boys title.

Jean Havrilla, Frederick, Md., was one of the competitors in the skillet toss. The mother of Woodbridge High School science teacher Chris Havrilla, she said that she attends the festival every year.

I want to support the community, said Havrilla, who had just thrown an 8-inch, 3 and -pound iron frying pan 35 feet. And besides, I love it! You get to do stuff like throw a skillet.

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