This year the Delaware State Fair will celebrate its 99th year as the premier summer tradition for local families on Delmarva and visitors to Delaware. With ten days full of entertainment and excitement, the State Fair will open its gates on Thursday, July 19 and run through Saturday, July 28. The streets of the Harrington Raceway & Casino will once again be filled with families enjoying music, food, carnival rides and the numerous sites the Delaware State Fair offers.
The Delaware State Fair began around a coal burning pot belly stove in the town of Harrington in 1919. Local community members decided that it was time to bring together a County Fair for the rural communities in the area. The Kent and Sussex County Fair made its debut in July of 1920, right on schedule. Thirty acres, 33 directors, 1,200 shares, six departments, three carnival rides, two types of racing and four days made up the very first Fair. The Kent and Sussex County Fair has since become what is known as the Delaware State Fair.
Today, the fair sits on nearly 300 acres and offers a wide variety of carnival rides and games as well as multiple concerts featuring renowned musicians, singers and comedy stars. It is also the site of several business enterprises, including the Harrington Raceway Casino and the Centre Ice Rink. The harness racing track on the fairgrounds is the oldest continuously operating harness racing track in the United States. The fairgrounds have been an important part of the Harrington community with a strong economic benefit to Harrington and the surrounding area.
Kathryn Masten Blanchette from Harrington has attended the Delaware State Fair for as long as she can remember. She plans to attend every day this year and enjoys the sights, sounds and watching people with her family.
“I love seeing the people. Some people you see only at the fair each year. I love walking around the fair with my kids. We love to look at all the animals, ride the rides, look at all the exhibits and most importantly eat all the yummy food,” Blanchette said. “I love watching my kids grow up and seeing the fair through their eyes. They have been every year including the year I was pregnant with them. They love the fair as much as I do.”
Blanchette’s kids are active in 4H and will be participating in the 4H talent show, archery contest and other demonstrations. “We’ll be busy with 4H. We’ll do lots of walking around and talking to people. We’ll eat lots of amazing food that we only eat once a year for 10 days,” she said. “We’ll ride rides and look at all of the animals. We’ll watch the nightly parade.” The family also plans to attend both the Brett Eldridge & Chris Young concerts.
Lindsey Short, who grew up near Abbott’s Mill in Milford, has been going to the State Fair since she was a child. She has fond memories of going with her parents three to four times each year.
“I love everything about the Fair, from the food to the games to the rides, but I really love seeing all the animals,” said Short. “It’s like a representation of Sussex County in one spot. I also love seeing people that I grew up with at church in Harrington, getting to reconnect with them this one time every year.” Short plans to see Toby Keith and Cape Henlopen graduate and Nashville star Jimmie Allen.
This year the Fair celebrates Your Summer Destination as they host their annual concert series. Performers this year include Toby Keith, Brett Eldredge, Chris Young, Jeff Dunham and Southern Uprising. The Craft Beer Festival is returning to the fair on Saturday, July 21 featuring over 50 varieties of beer from top Delmarva Breweries.
On July 19 the Delaware State Fair gates will open at noon with the Carnival Rides open at 5pm. From July 20 to July 28 gates will open from 8am to 1 pm and Carnival Rides will open at 1pm. Adults admission for those 13 years of age and older is $9.00; Kids 6-12 years of age is $4.00; and Children 5 years of age and younger are free. More information on this year’s Delaware State Fair can be found at http://delawarestatefair.com.
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