Best Bets: Book offers a Delaware bucket list for 2021

Open Cockpit Days at the AMC Museum on the grounds of the Dover Air Force Base is one of the many items in the book “100 Things to Do in Delaware Before You Die” by Rachel Kipp and Dan Shortridge. (Submitted photos)

While 2020 was a year when we were all planted on our couches for months on end, hopes are high that 2021 will be one of finally being able to get out of the house, explore and be around friends and family once again.

And even if you can’t afford to or don’t have the time to go far away, Delaware offers up a wealth of opportunities to rediscover your surroundings or experience them for the first time.

That’s where authors Rachel Kipp and Dan Shortridge come in.

With nearly four decades of combined experience in the worlds of journalism and public relations, the Camden husband-and-wife pair have written the book, “100 Things to Do in Delaware Before You Die,” giving locals and tourists alike tips on First State food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, culture and history and shopping and fashion.

The book is part of a series by Reedy Press highlighting major U.S. cities and what they have to offer.

“I actually had college friends that had written the book about Indianapolis, and when I was telling Dan about it, we started talking about how Delaware would be a great fit for a book like that. Even though we’re a state, we’re obviously one of the smaller states and also that Delaware doesn’t really get its due in a lot of travel guides,” Ms. Kipp said.

“A lot of times we’re getting a page or two in Washington, D.C., or a chapter in the New York guide and the Philadelphia guide. You don’t often get one of our own, and there’s so much to do here and so many interesting things to see that we thought it was time for Delaware to have a dedicated travel guide.”

While Mr. Shortridge was born and raised in western Sussex County, Ms. Kipp is a transplant from the Midwest.

Enjoying scrapple at the Delaware State Fair is another idea of something to do in 2021.

“We also lived and worked in all three counties. So it gave us kind of a different perspective in writing the book. So that came in handy, too,” Mr. Shortridge said.

Following the format of the other books in the series, the Delaware edition offers insider tips for many of the entries.

For example, those who take in a general admission show at The Freeman Stage in Selbyville are advised to bring their own chair; for prime sandcastle-making, check out Lewes Beach after 6 p.m. for plenty of room to spread out; or most Rehoboth Beach arcades will honor tickets for an indefinite period of time.

Ms. Kipp said it was hard to limit the book to 100 items.

“We started out with a big spreadsheet, and we ended up with more than 100 things, and so it was a matter of trying to cull it down. We wanted to achieve a good balance of things to do in all three counties. We wanted to make sure we had an equitable number of things in all of the different categories, too,” she said.

“We had a lot of great restaurants, and so we had to kind of balance things out. Another thing we had to think about are things that would really appeal to lots of different groups and lots of different demographics, and I think most of the things in the book, I think anybody of any age could really be interested in doing.”

The two did admit to cheating a bit when it came to that 100-item limit.

“We found a way to get multiple listings into some of the individual items. There’s a couple in here about downtown Lewes and downtown Newark, where obviously we talk about more than one thing,” she said.

“There’s a listing about building a sandcastle, and obviously, you can do that in multiple places in Delaware. There’s something about ice cream and corn mazes, and obviously, there are a number of places that do that. So it was nice because we were able to get a few more than 100 businesses or places to go in the book, and we wanted to make sure we highlighted as many of the cool places in Delaware as possible.”

Mr. Shortridge said the book is an affectionate tribute to everything the small-but-diverse state has to offer.

“I grew up here, so the book obviously has that kind of a perspective. But Rachel kind of fell in love, as an outsider, with the state and all the things to do. And as we’ve had kids, we’ve fallen in love with it from their perspectives, as well,” he said.

“We have a daughter who is a teenager — she’s 16 — and twin 2-year-olds, so we’ve gotten to see the state through their eyes and as they’ve grown up and gotten older and just be really amazed by how much there is to do.

The museums with all the history that goes with them, the various sports offerings and the parks for that all-important social distancing are but a glimpse of what Delaware offers.

“One of the things that people always say about wherever they are is that there’s nothing to do here, and a lot of people say that about Delaware. But it’s just so not true. There’s a lot to do and a lot to see and a lot to experience and explore if you open your mind to take it all in.”

Among the items in the food and drink chapter — which includes the burgers and shakes at Wilmington’s famed Charcoal Pit, seafood at Matt’s Fish Camp in Sussex County and the beloved Bobbie at Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop — Delaware’s own mystery meat scrapple makes an appearance, along with a mention of Bridgeville’s annual Apple Scrapple Festival. That was a natural for the book, they said.

“Having grown up here, Dan certainly has to have his scrapple sandwich every year at the fair. We had to put that in there. It’s definitely something you should try before you die — unless you are someone who chooses not to eat meat,” Ms. Kipp said.

The recent election of Delaware’s Joe Biden to the presidency has put Delaware firmly in the spotlight.

President-elect Biden has been seen in Wilmington many times over the past few months and also down in the beach area, where he and his family own a house.

He also took former President Barack Obama for lunch at Wilmington’s Charcoal Pit and was one of the first customers when Delaware’s Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop opened a location in Washington, D.C., in 2013.

Ms. Kipp said that may have an impact on folks traveling to the First State to check out the sights.

“He’s been doing speeches from the Queen Theater, and we actually got married there. In fact, we think he’s using one of the same smaller rooms where we got married for some of his speeches,” she said.

“You can’t really say, but I think it will be good. People are always interested whenever a new administration comes in because they will go to certain places on the weekends or on vacations that are special to them or they have been doing for years. People are curious about that, and I think you’ve already seen that.

“On the day that the election was called for Biden, we heard that people were flocking to the rest stop (in Newark) to get their picture taken with the ‘Joe Biden’ sign. We did it, too. People were excited. And I think that’s a good thing.”

For more ideas on what to see and do around Delaware and to get information on purchasing the book, visit 100thingsinde.com.

Directors sought

Second Street Players recently announced the first two shows of its 2021 season and is calling for potential directors to submit applications by Sunday.

SSP officials say they are confident it can provide a safe theater experience for limited audiences in accordance with current state guidelines. SSP will also continue to offer streamed performances of each show. Show descriptions and their publishers are listed below:

• “Exit Laughing” (Dramatic Publishing) — When the biggest highlight in your life for the past 30 years has been your weekly bridge night with the “girls,” what do you do when one of your foursome inconveniently dies? If you’re Connie, Leona and Millie, three southern ladies from Birmingham, Alabama, you do the most daring thing you’ve ever done. Performance dates are Feb. 26, 27 and 28 and March 5, 6 and 7.

• “An Evening of Culture: Faith County II” (Concord Theatricals) — In this sequel to “Faith County,” the scene returns Mineola County, where the Community Theatre is producing “Romeo and Juliet.” Even though the cast members don’t have their lines memorized, the set isn’t finished and a dog keeps barking offstage, they’re going to give it a go. Performance dates are April 23, 24 and 25 and April 30, May 1 and 2.

Individuals interested in directing one of the above shows should submit a letter of intent by Sunday to Guy Crawford at thebus1968@yahoo.com. All director submissions should include the following:

• A letter of interest stating your desire to direct at SSP, which show you are submitting for and a basic concept for that show. Your concept should include:

  1. Your overall vision for the show, including why you want to direct, what you will bring to this show as director and what you hope audiences will take away from performances of your production.
  2. Technical aspects, such as set, sound, lights, props and special effects.
  3. What you see as challenges in directing this show and how you propose to meet those challenges.
  4. Potential production staff members you plan to work with.
  5. Your experience with managing a budget.

• A list (resume format is fine) of all productions directed, including theater, location and year. Relevant theater experience may be included, as well as additional support materials and current contact information (phone and email address mandatory).

• Any possible schedule conflicts that may exist during the preproduction months, tech week and production dates of the show.

• If you have not directed at SSP in the last five years, a list of three references familiar with your past work. The list must include each reference’s name, address, phone number and email address.