The Delaware State Fair is pleased to be celebrating our Centennial Birthday with our friends of the fair in 2019. To help tell our story we have developed a coffee table book highlighting “100 Years of Family Fun”. Copies of this book are available to purchase on Amazon (click on the image of the book to order your copy today).
Here’s a snippet of this amazing book:
100 Years of Family Fun
Welcome to the Delaware State Fair Centennial Celebration! Thank you for being part of this all-American tradition of family fun in the First State.
Our modern fair, this year marking its 100th anniversary, is one of the oldest, most popular and most successful events of its type in the country.
And, with weather-permitting annual attendance of about 300,000 – close to a third of the state population – it’s Delaware’s biggest annual attraction.
“I love the state fair,” Governor John Carney said. “It’s amazing, always a lot of fun for families, and it shows off the best of our state – our people, our history and our future. …And there’s always something new to see every year,” he added. “I wouldn’t miss it.”
To walk around its expansive fairgrounds in Harrington in the
state’s heartland Kent County – where Governor’s Day gives everyone a chance to meet our highest elected official – it’s hard to imagine that the modern fair we all know began a full century ago.
Its competitions draw tens of thousands of entries from cattle to crochet. Top music performers and special events
such as the demolition derby and monster trucks regularly get sell-out crowds. The popular midway screams with the latest thrill rides and prize games for all ages. Exhibitors and agencies – known for their freebies – show off their latest services and equipment. The Marketplace offers everything from bamboo sheets and basement waterproofing to bird feeders and baby dresses. Many Delaware businesses lend support through sponsorships that provide free entertainment and services from a petting zoo to diaper-changing station.
Meanwhile, an ever-evolving lineup of attractions keeps fairgoers finding new fun and food such as alligator bites on a stick, octo-tacos stuffed with real octopus, the trademark Delaware Dog loaded with authentic Kirby and Holloway scrapple and deep-fried candy bars that have become a popular standard.
The fair’s fare has been so wild, in fact, that it has starred on the national “Carnival Eats” television show. The fair also wins recognition in various lists of the country’s top state fairs, even some that mix in county and regional events.
Ron Draper, president of the Delaware State Fair Board of Directors, says the fair’s success is multi-faceted including both consistency and change.
In addition to keeping true to its agricultural roots and being blessed with incomparably dedicated volunteers and staff, he said the fair has been willing to try
new things while maintaining its values and successful traditions. That means fairgoers can come find their old favorites, but enjoy something new every year.
Also, Draper said, fair activities have adapted to an increasingly evening-oriented public.
Both day and night, many on the Harrington fairgrounds who are asked to name their favorite part of the Delaware State Fair reply with the same simple answer:
Grown from its initial four days to its current 10-day run, the modern Delaware State Fair maintains deep agricultural roots – but has been developed to maintain public interest and stability.
Avoiding pitfalls of financial problems and flagging public interest that ultimately doomed nearly a dozen other early fairs statewide – closing after runs of three to 23 years – the nonprofit Delaware State Fair has reached its 100th anniversary with fiscal stability and strong attendance, prompting big thanks from its organizers to everyone who ever “spent a day at the fair.”
Over the decades, the fair would not have been possible, lasting or secure for the future without vital support from a myriad of Delawareans who have and continue to contribute directly to its annual presentation, from members of the Delaware General Assembly and other elected officials to exhibitors, vendors and advertisers, organizers say.
For a century, the largest ranks of fair supporters have been filled with its uncounted fair presidents, vice presidents and other officers, directors, managers, committee members and department superintendents, staff members and thousands upon thousands of other
volunteers who have worked tirelessly year-round behind the scenes and during the fair – year after year after year – to keep it safe, fresh and fun for the whole extended Delaware State Fair family.
Harrington Mayor Anthony R. Moyer considers the secret of the fair’s longevity and success to be its “community feel.”
“The state fair is Delaware and that’s why people love it so much and keep coming back,” said Delaware Public Archives Director Stephen M. Marz. “It’s about our history, our life, our memories,” he said, adding that the fair reminds him of childhood days riding a goat named Billy.
“The fair shares the story of who we were, who we are and a remarkable century of our life in Delaware,” Marz said.
And the fair demonstrates how much the community cares, said Patricia Beebe, president and chief executive officer of the Food Bank of Delaware that benefits from the fair’s annual Food Lion Hunger Relief Day donation drive.
“The Delaware State Fair is such an integral part of the landscape of Delaware and such a rich part of Delaware history,” Beebe said. “We are proud to be a part of a community that is so generous by giving back to their neighbors in need.”
She and others involved in the fair view the fair’s centennial as cause for celebration. “We wish the Delaware State Fair congratulations on celebrating their first 100 years and we look forward to being a part of writing the history of the next 100 years,” Beebe said.
To commemorate the century mark, the Delaware State Fair organization is proud to publish and share this celebratory book in honor of all fair supporters who have passed away and with deepest gratitude to all who are or have been part of its enduring success.
The Delaware State Fair Centennial – with many special activities, souvenirs and a special logo banner boasting “A Century of Family Fun” – also is being honored with an engaging, interactive exhibit at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover, exploring and sharing the fair’s history and heritage.
Thanks to the support of state lawmakers, the fair’s 100th anniversary also is being recognized with the historic issuance of a limited edition centennial license plate that is perhaps the ultimate Delaware State Fair collectible.
And to think it all began with a few friends gathered around a pot belly stove.