The Truth About Gluten




For most of her life, Cathy Berzins suffered from intermittent digestive problems and migraines. She had difficulty staying focused. “I just didn’t feel well,” she says. Doctors found nothing wrong. “I wasn’t making it up,” she says, “but I learned to live with it.”

Her gastric discomfort was particularly frustrating, considering she was a cook devoted to healthy foods. She even ground wheat berries herself to make her own bread.

Then she heard someone talk about celiac disease. When people with the autoimmune disease eat gluten—a protein found in wheat, rye and barley—they experience a reaction that can damage the small intestine. The only treatment is to avoid products with gluten.

Berzins is a believer. “Migraine headaches are not an issue for me now,” she says. “I can think more clearly.” She’s embraced the gluten-free diet to such an extent that in May she opened The Birch Tree Café, a gluten-free restaurant inside Good Earth Market, located just outside Bethany Beach.

The eatery is part of a growing movement. These days, hosts and hostesses are facing as many gluten-free guests as meat- and dairy-free diners. Restaurants, including Ulysses American Gastropub in North Wilmington and Home Grown Café in Newark, have gluten-free menus. Grotto Pizza has gluten-free crusts, and gluten-free products share supermarket shelf space with conventional items.

Janssen’s in Greenville upped its offerings seven years ago, in part to cater to a growing number of consumers with dietary concerns. “Any number of our customers just feel better without wheat,” says Eileen Janssen.

And there, perhaps, is the rub. Does everyone on a gluten-free diet truly need to be? Will it help you or hurt you?

The questions can raise some hackles. “People with celiac disease are pretty incensed that so many people without it want to go gluten-free,” says Sharon Howard, a registered dietitian at Christiana Care’s Eugene du Pont Preventative Medicine & Rehabilitation Institute in Greenville, whose daughter has the disease.

People with celiac disease feel they don’t have the luxury of a choice. Even the slightest bit of gluten—picture a communion wafer—can cause a reaction.

Nevertheless, few would argue that they’ve benefitted from the number of gluten-free consumers who’ve made it a choice. Products are becoming plentiful. Sales of gluten-free foods are expected to top $5.5 billion by 2015, and given the numbers, not all those are going to people with celiac disease.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in 133 people has celiac disease in the United States. That’s a relatively small number considering one in three people has cardiovascular disease.

The wide variety of symptoms traditionally made it hard to diagnose. They range from intestinal issues—gas, constipation or diarrhea—to depression, mouth ulcers, fatigue, joint pain and infertility. You may have stomach pain, but you may not, even though the disease affects nutrient absorption.

A blood test now checks for celiac disease, but patients must eat gluten prior to being tested. Rather than go back on gluten, Berzins, who had been gluten-free for a year when the doctor suggested the test, opted for a DNA test. (This disease runs in families, and her daughter also has it.)

Some people don’t have celiac disease, but they still have trouble with gluten. The journal BMC Medicine published a paper that claims up to 18 million people are “gluten sensitive.” They have a reaction when they reach a certain threshold. “They can probably handle a little cereal in the morning but not a big hoagie roll at dinner,” Howard explains.

Irene Soucy, a dietitian in Beebe Medical Center’s Nutritional Services Department, has seen increased interest in gluten sensitivity. “The media, word-of-mouth and the increased availability of gluten-free foods have helped spur this trend,” she says. 

Some gluten-free followers have neither the disease nor the intolerance. They have an allergy or sensitivity to the protein in wheat. They might be fine with barley or rye or wheat’s cousin, spelt.

Then there are those who want to reduce their consumption of genetically engineered grains. “Most of us are eating way too much wheat and grains to process them well,” says April Pedrick of Harvest Market Natural Foods in Hockessin. “Even people without celiac disease might experience bloating. The stuff can sit in the digestive track.

Not surprisingly, some people hope that going gluten-free will cure what ails them. “They eat poorly and want to unscientifically blame a food group,” Howard says. They may decide to play with their diet rather than face a battery of tests. Soucy says about half of her gluten-free clients restricted their diet without a clinical test or biopsy to diagnose celiac disease.

If you’re considering a gluten-free path, be prepared: It’s not an easy road. For one, some of the products have more calories than their conventional counterparts, which is a wake-up call for those whose goal is to lose weight. To make gluten-free products an appetizing alternative, they may contain more sugar or eggs. Consequently, people who grab prepared or packaged substitutes can pack on pounds.

A true gluten-free diet requires vigilance. Regular soy sauce has gluten. So do many vitamins. Malt, Soucy says, is a “hidden” source of gluten. “Barley grain appears as malt or malt flavoring,” she says. Rice or corn cereal, which seems fine on the surface, might have malt flavoring as an additive, she notes.

Cross-contamination is a continual fear. The knife that buttered wheat bread shouldn’t be used to butter rice bread. Some households have two toasters and dedicated cutting boards.

Berzins previously was a partner in Café on 26 in Bethany, which also offers conventional products. She left to devote herself to gluten-free goods because she was too concerned about unintentional cross-contamination. “It’s not negotiable,” she says. “Unless I could ensure no cross-contamination, I had to eliminate gluten from cooking altogether.”

Eating out presents a problem for gluten-free diners. What happens if the kitchen delivers the salad with croutons? Howard has a friend who hides a sugar packet under the lettuce before she sends a dish back to the kitchen. When the new salad arrives, she checks for the packet to see if they just removed the croutons instead of making a fresh salad.

Although Home Grown Café offers a gluten-free menu, there’s no way chef-owner Eric Aber can guarantee an item isn’t unintentionally contaminated. “It’s a can of worms,” he acknowledges. “We won’t use regular soy sauce on a gluten-free dish, but I’m constantly worried about diners and food allergies.”

Those testing the gluten-free waters should also up their food budget. The items aren’t cheap. Gluten-free bread might cost $3 or $4 more than regular bread. Shop around. Products are available at a variety of sources.

Followers also need to make up for the minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and nutrients that gluten products provide. You’ll miss out on the benefits of enriched wheat flours or whole grains, for instance. “It’s nutritionally a mistake to unnecessarily change your diet,” Howard says.

If you’ve gone gluten-free for some time and you’re not seeing results, you could have an issue with fructans, not gluten. Fructans are present in garlic and artichokes, along with wheat.

For a period of time, many people may experiment with gluten-free foods to see if they notice a difference in how they feel. Marianne Carter tried a gluten-fee diet upon her doctor’s recommendation. (Her issues actually stemmed from thyroid medication.)

Director of the Center for Health Promotion at Delaware State University, Carter was thrilled that there were so many choices, but she was glad to learn she didn’t have celiac disease.

“There is a role for gluten-free products, especially for those who really need it,” she says. “But people shouldn’t feel it’s nutritionally superior if you can handle wheat.”

For Berzins, gluten-free foods are not a passing phase. They’re an important part of her lifestyle. “Natural whole wheat is a good food,” she says. “It’s just that my body doesn’t recognize gluten as friend. It’s a foe.”

And it’s one she’s happy to live without.

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January 2018

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Linvilla Orchards
137 W Knowlton Rd
Media, PA  19063
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Telephone: 302-286-5704
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Hilton Wilmington/Christiana
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Newark, DE  19713
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Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Cost: free

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The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 South Railroad Avenue
Wyoming, DE  19934
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Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc., Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore
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, DE  19801
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Cost: Varies

Where:
Linvilla Orchards
137 W Knowlton Rd
Media, PA  19063
View map »

More information

January 2 – 27 Winter Group Show A rotating group show featuring an eclectic mix of artwork including oil paintings, pastels, ornamental boxes, art glass and jewelry. Custom Framing and Gift...

Cost: free

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The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Cost: free

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Coastal Audiology
32034 Long Neck Road
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Telephone: 302-316-0525
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Come join us in celebrating the mission work of the American Heart Association while raising funds to end cardiovascular disease. There will be a live and silent auction, served dinner with wine,...

Cost: $175.00

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
Justinson Street
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Telephone: 302-286-5704
Contact Name: Denise Griffin
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:     December 19, 2018   FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Dave Ruffner Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave., Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095,...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
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Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington Public Library
10 E. 10th St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Show glides through life of professional figure skater Randy Gardner with help from Tai Babilonia and Dorothy Hamill. Wilmington, DE—“It ain’t no Ice Capades,” Randy...

Where:
200 Water St.
Wilmington
, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-594-1100, ext. 215

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Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

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Cost: free

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Seaford Audiology
24488 Sussex Highway, Suite 4
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Cost: free

Where:
Coastal Audiology
32034 Long Neck Road
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Telephone: 302-316-0525
Website »

More information

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Cost: Varies

Where:
Linvilla Orchards
137 W Knowlton Rd
Media, PA  19063
View map »

More information

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Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
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Telephone: 302-286-5704
Contact Name: Denise Griffin
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Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

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Cab Calloway School Theatre
100 N DuPont Rd
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Sponsor: DE Theatre Co & Cab Calloway Fund
Telephone: 302-547-4543
Contact Name: Kelly Furman
Website »

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Show glides through life of professional figure skater Randy Gardner with help from Tai Babilonia and Dorothy Hamill. Wilmington, DE—“It ain’t no Ice Capades,” Randy...

Where:
200 Water St.
Wilmington
, DE  19801
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Sponsor: Carolina Millard
Telephone: 302-594-1100, ext. 215

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Cost: free

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Coastal Audiology
32034 Long Neck Road
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Telephone: 302-316-0525
Website »

More information

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Cost: free

Where:
Seaford Audiology
24488 Sussex Highway, Suite 4
Seaford, DE  19973
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Cost: free

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The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: $175.00

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
Justinson Street
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Telephone: 302-286-5704
Contact Name: Denise Griffin
Website »

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Cost: FREE

Where:
Faith Victory Christian Center
301 Commonwealth Avenue
Claymont, DE  19703
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Sponsor: Faith Victory Christian Center
Telephone: 302.354.6726
Contact Name: Alvin Walker
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Cost: $20 members; $30 non-members

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Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Sponsor: Delaware Center for Horticulture
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Ruth Arias
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Where:
132 Townsend Hall on UD's South Campus
531 South College Avenue
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Botanic Gardens
Telephone: (302) 831-4188
Contact Name: Valann Budischak
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Cost: Free

Where:
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark
420 Willa Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: UUFN
Telephone: 302.368.2984
Contact Name: Richard Field
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The first major retrospective exhibition of John Sloan’s work since 1988, An American Journey explores all facets of the artist’s long career: his work as an illustrator in Philadelphia, his...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
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View map »

More information

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Where:
200 Water St.
Wilmington
, DE  19801
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Sponsor: Carolina Millard
Telephone: 302-594-1100, ext. 215

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January 2 – 27 Winter Group Show A rotating group show featuring an eclectic mix of artwork including oil paintings, pastels, ornamental boxes, art glass and jewelry. Custom Framing and Gift...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

On January 23rd, 25th, and 26th Seaford Audiology in Seaford, DE will be providing FREE HEARING SCREENINGS and will have a visiting specialist explaining the LATEST in DIGITAL HEARING TECHNOLOGY! ...

Cost: free

Where:
Seaford Audiology
24488 Sussex Highway, Suite 4
Seaford, DE  19973
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More information

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Cost: $175.00

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
Justinson Street
Wilmington , DE
View map »


Telephone: 302-286-5704
Contact Name: Denise Griffin
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2428

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Cost: $10.00 on Thursday; no cost on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

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Hockessin Memorial Hall
610 Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE  19707
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Website »

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Cost: $90 per person

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Sponsor: University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125

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Cost: 75.00 per person, plus service fee

Where:
Harry's Savoy Ballroom
2020 Naamans Road
Wilmington, DE  19810
View map »


Sponsor: Harry's Hospitality Group
Telephone: 302-475-3000
Contact Name: Riley Quinn
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The first major retrospective exhibition of John Sloan’s work since 1988, An American Journey explores all facets of the artist’s long career: his work as an illustrator in Philadelphia, his...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Show glides through life of professional figure skater Randy Gardner with help from Tai Babilonia and Dorothy Hamill. Wilmington, DE—“It ain’t no Ice Capades,” Randy...

Where:
200 Water St.
Wilmington
, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Millard
Telephone: 302-594-1100, ext. 215

More information

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Show Less...

On January 23rd, 25th, and 26th Seaford Audiology in Seaford, DE will be providing FREE HEARING SCREENINGS and will have a visiting specialist explaining the LATEST in DIGITAL HEARING TECHNOLOGY! ...

Cost: free

Where:
Seaford Audiology
24488 Sussex Highway, Suite 4
Seaford, DE  19973
View map »

More information

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Cost: free

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The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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More information

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Cost: $175.00

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
Justinson Street
Wilmington , DE
View map »


Telephone: 302-286-5704
Contact Name: Denise Griffin
Website »

More information

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Cost: $10.00 on Thursday; no cost on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Where:
Hockessin Memorial Hall
610 Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE  19707
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $40 per adult

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Fair Hill NRMA, ED Walls Bldg
300 Tawes Drive
off 273 West of Newark
Elkton, MD  21921
View map »


Sponsor: Cecil Land Trust
Telephone: 410-441-3717
Contact Name: Beth Burnam
Website »

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Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

Show glides through life of professional figure skater Randy Gardner with help from Tai Babilonia and Dorothy Hamill. Wilmington, DE—“It ain’t no Ice Capades,” Randy...

Where:
200 Water St.
Wilmington
, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Millard
Telephone: 302-594-1100, ext. 215

More information

The first major retrospective exhibition of John Sloan’s work since 1988, An American Journey explores all facets of the artist’s long career: his work as an illustrator in Philadelphia, his...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 2 – 27 Winter Group Show A rotating group show featuring an eclectic mix of artwork including oil paintings, pastels, ornamental boxes, art glass and jewelry. Custom Framing and Gift...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Come join us in celebrating the mission work of the American Heart Association while raising funds to end cardiovascular disease. There will be a live and silent auction, served dinner with wine,...

Cost: $175.00

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
Justinson Street
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View map »


Telephone: 302-286-5704
Contact Name: Denise Griffin
Website »

More information

Learn about the importance of foundations and structural loads as you build a trophy that supports a ball. Visitors of all ages are invited to discover solutions to science and engineering...

Cost: Free with admission; Adults: $14, Children 6-14: $5, Children 5 and under: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum and Library
200 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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More than 50,000 books for sale!  Thursday, 1/26 is for Friends members only ($10 memberships available at the door).  Friday from 9-9; Saturday from 9-5.  On Sunday (9-3), we supply and you...

Cost: $10.00 on Thursday; no cost on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Where:
Hockessin Memorial Hall
610 Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE  19707
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Rosemary Bailey from San Diego, California is an engaging popular artist in her premier performance at the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society.  She is the consummate musician whose playing ability...

Cost: $20 Adults, $10 Students, Groups Call 302-995-2603

Where:
John Dickinson High School
1801 Miltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
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The new year brings us "Disaster!" - the epic disaster movie musical spoof, chock full of everyone’s favorite 70’s pop songs.  Shows are at 8pm on January 26 and 27, and February 2 and 3. ...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
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This January, ’70s soul crooners The O’Jays, will bring their favorite hits to Philadelphia. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers will entertain fans with their famous “Philly Soul” sound in the...

Cost: $69-$89

Where:
SugarHouse Casino
1001 N. Delaware Ave
Philadelphia, PA  19125
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The first major retrospective exhibition of John Sloan’s work since 1988, An American Journey explores all facets of the artist’s long career: his work as an illustrator in Philadelphia, his...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Show glides through life of professional figure skater Randy Gardner with help from Tai Babilonia and Dorothy Hamill. Wilmington, DE—“It ain’t no Ice Capades,” Randy...

Where:
200 Water St.
Wilmington
, DE  19801
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Sponsor: Carolina Millard
Telephone: 302-594-1100, ext. 215

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