Fair draws biggest one-day attendance in 99 years

by | Aug 10, 2018

HARRINGTON, Del. — Officials closed the book on the 99th annual Delaware State Fair with improved attendance despite challenging weather.
Gone was the heat that plagued so many previous fairs and replaced by record rainfall.
The 2018 Delaware State Fair had attendance of 291,316 fair-goers visiting the fairgrounds, a 2-percent increase over last year’s attendance numbers.
Compared to last year when the fair was faced with the traditional summertime heat blast mixed with a few unseasonably cool weather nights, the 2018 fair took on a first time ever meteorological challenge.
“This year’s fair experienced record setting rainfall totals of over 6 inches of rain spread over six of the 10 days that forced the carnival not to open on Saturday July 21, the fair to close its commercial operations early that same day and turned all of our reliable parking lots in treacherous mud,” said Bill DiMondi, fair general manager.
However, on Saturday July 28, the fair admitted a record-setting 48,653 patrons, the best in 99 years.
Officials said it’s always of great importance for the fair to continue to ensure a balance of grounds entertainment and agriculturally-minded entertainment and exhibits.
The Delaware FFA organization along with the fair unveiled a new Ag Education area called the FFA Ag-Venture based on the fundamental agricultural principles that the John Curtis Sr. Barnyard supported.
The FFA Ag-Venture area was developed to help introduce the world of livestock and agriculture to individuals visiting the fair, most of who were not raised on or ever-set foot on a farm.
Another ag-related programs were the Antique Machinery Showcase on Saturday, July 21 which featured agricultural craft demonstrations, the antique tractor display, horse pull competition, antique tractor pull, livestock shows and the ever-popular interactive baby chick display sponsored by Allen Harim.
Livestock, 4-H, FFA and other forms of competitive exhibits dominated the fairgrounds once again. The fair received and processed over 41,000 entries this year coming from 3,089 exhibitors.
“With this year’s rainfall coupled with the huge animal population, we almost had to develop our own version of Noah’s Ark,” DiMondi said with a chuckle.
The Junior Livestock Auction, which represents the culmination of a junior exhibitor’s full year of hard work and dedication, completes an important early agribusiness education program for many of our livestock exhibitors.
This year, the auction experienced another strong year as 125 animals were sold for slightly less than $198,000 that was distributed to junior exhibitors who owned the top placing junior market animals.
“This year’s fair will certainly go down as a fair to remember as the weather both good and bad played a crucial role in our success this year,” said President of the Delaware State Fair Board of Directors Ron Draper. “As we reflect back on another successful fair, I’m always thankful of the collective hard work of our volunteers, board members and staff.
“We are already hard at work getting ready for next year’s Centennial Celebration.”
The dates for the 100th annual Delaware State Fair in 2019 are Thursday July 18 through Saturday July 27.

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