HARRINGTON — The Delaware State Fair shattered some longstanding attendance records in the just-past centennial season.
The fair broke an all-time cumulative attendance record when 328,000 patrons entered the fairgrounds during the 10 days of the fair, which ran from July 18 and ended Saturday night July 27. This year’s attendance represents a 12% increase over last year.
The fair broke an all-time closing-day attendance record when almost 54,000 patrons visited the fair on Saturday’s final day.
The fair broke an all-time weekday attendance record on Wednesday, July 24 when almost 48,000 patrons went through the gates.
That was the day after the recent heatwave broke in favor of milder daytime temperatures, lower humidity and cool crisp nights.
“The first five days of the fair were brutal in terms of hot weather that directly impacted patrons, exhibitors and animals when heat indices averaged 108 degrees,” said Bill DiMondi, general manager of the fair.
“Tuesday was a day of weather transition when the area was doused with a full day of rain. Finally, when great weather arrived last Wednesday and hung around through closing on Saturday night it seemed like the entire DelMarVa Peninsula decided it was time to visit the fair and boy were we ready for every one of those visitors”
This year’s 100th edition of the fair contained some added attractions.
“By design, this fair was very special and included one of the best concert lineups in the fair’s history,” said Fair Board of Directors President Ron Draper.
“(There were) fireworks eight out of the 10 nights, the daily distribution of free Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets, which served as our version of birthday cupcakes and the usual compliment of great livestock competition, 4-H and FFA exhibits and an extraordinary carnival featuring over 50 rides that thrilled patrons of all ages.”
The Budweiser Clydesdales also took up residence in Harrington for the majority of the fair’s duration.
The official centennial M&T Bank Grandstand entertainment schedule featured two sold-out shows by Reba McEntire and the hot-selling country duo Dan + Shay.
The lineup also included performances by Sugarland, Gladys Knight, “America’s Got Talent” winner Darci Lynne, Brantley Gilbert, Brothers Osborne, Christian artists Bethel Music and the demolition derby.
Approximately 50,000 fans attended the performances this year. Assistant General Manager Danny Aguilar noted that the “pit” tickets located directly in front of the stage and the VIP concert packages were in high demand.
“The fair enjoyed partnerships with a record number of corporate sponsors this year including for the first time, a presenting sponsor, Corteva Agriscience,” Mr. Aguilar said.
“Corteva is the new Delaware based spinoff of the agricultural seed and chemical lines of DowDuPont, which played a significant role supporting this year’s fair with the celebration of everything agriculture by taking the lead in educating the non-farming public about the role that Delaware and Maryland play in the world’s food supply and by celebrating the designation of the Vanderwende family from Bridgeville as the 2019 Farm Family of the Year.”
The Junior Livestock Auction, experienced another strong year as 120 animals were sold for approximately $194,000 that was distributed to junior exhibitors who owned the top placing junior market animals.
The dates for the 101st annual Delaware State Fair in 2020 are Thursday July 23 through Saturday Aug. 1.