During the 1950 Delmarva Chicken Festival, the “world’s largest fry pan” – a 10-foot-diameter behemoth cooking vessel – was first unveiled.
The pan became famous for its ability to fry up tasty chicken for thousands of attendees.
The 650-pound pan became a symbol of the Delmarva Chicken Festival and of Delmarva’s chicken industry.
After the festival was paused in 2014, no one expected to see a 10-foot-wide fry pan at a Delmarva Chicken Festival again.
But for the 2023 Delmarva Chicken Festival, the world’s largest fry pan is back.
Delmarva Chicken Association is showcasing the pan as a featured attraction for the festival, which will take place Saturday, Oct. 7, from 1 to 7 p.m. at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury.
Admission to the event is free.
The festival is organized by Delmarva Chicken Association, which advocates for the common good of the chicken community in Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia's Eastern Shore.
The pan’s owner and curator, the Georgetown Historical Society, has generously agreed to loan the pan to the festival for display. Perdue Farms, one of the festival’s presenting sponsors, and The Metal Shop of Delmar arranged for the iconic pan to be transported from Georgetown to Salisbury.
Once the festival concludes, the pan will be returned to its permanent home in the historical society’s Marvel Carriage Museum.
The fry pan was manufactured by a Delmarva company – Selbyville’s Mumford Sheet Metal Works. And right from the start, the chicken community’s boosters counted on its incredible size to capture public curiosity.
Eight inches deep and made of cast iron, it has dividers that split it into quarters. During festivals, it could fry 800 chicken pieces at once when its 180 gallons of cooking oil were heated up by propane burners below.
“The world’s largest fry pan is the best-remembered feature of every Delmarva Chicken Festival,” said Holly Porter, DCA’s Executive Director. “All year, as we planned and promoted this event, we met people who told us they hoped they would have a chance to see it at the revived festival. We’ve thrilled to announce the pan will be part of our event, and we thank the Georgetown Historical Society, The Metal Shop, and Perdue Farms for their help in moving and placing it.”
Other attractions at the 2023 Delmarva Chicken Festival will include food vendors, an open-air marketplace, kids activities (including touch-a-truck exhibits, a petting zoo, and bounce houses), a "Walk Through History" tent with historical displays, a virtual reality tour of a chicken farm, baby chicks for visitors to hold, a chickin' pickin’ competition, two stages with programming, a beer tent, and more.
Live music will be performed throughout the day by The Jones Boys, Jimmy Charles, and Mike Hines & The Look on the Pohanka of Salisbury Automotive Group Stage. The ‘Chicken Capers’ contests, which pit teams of chicken company employees against each other in competitive games, are returning for the 2023 event.
You won’t want to miss Wing War on the Shore, a hot wings eating contest sponsored by Avery Hall Insurance, or the Miss Delmarva Chicken Festival Pageant. A fireworks show presented by Marydel Ag Supply will round out the event at 7 p.m.
With 15 food trucks on hand, no one will leave the Delmarva Chicken Festival hungry. Honoring the festival’s tradition of not-to-be-missed fried chicken, the Salisbury Lion’s Club will be serving chicken prepared in their own oversized frying pan, and tasty offerings from many other food vendors will be available, including Phat Boyz Catering, Petes PeteZa, Get BAKED Food Trolley, Big Bad Wolf Bacon, Waffle n Drizzle, and The Street Kitchen, along with a beer tent.
Visitors can also browse a marketplace and community service showcase with more than 50 vendors. Delmarva’s five chicken companies – Allen Harim Foods, Amick Farms, Mountaire Farms, Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods – are presenting sponsors of the 2023 Delmarva Chicken Festival.
Festival dates to 1946
Delmarva Chicken Association, in the years when it was known as Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., organized an annual festival from 1948 (first called the Chicken of Tomorrow Festival) until 2014, when the Delmarva Chicken Festival served its last wing and drumstick… until now. The 2023 festival will pay homage to the long-running festival’s traditions, but with a modern twist, focusing on local food, live music, and family-friendly attractions.
This year, DCA’s “Growing For 100 Years” campaign celebrates the 100th anniversary of Delmarva’s chicken industry, which began in 1923 with a broiler flock raised by Ocean View’s Cecile Steele, as well as the 75th anniversary of the founding of DCA.