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What to expect at this year's Delaware State Fair

Delaware State Fair

The Delaware State Fair starts Thursday, and this year it's back in full force.


Last year the fair hosted just a third of its regular visitor count because of COVID-19. Now organizers hope to bring folks back to a staple of Delaware for over a hundred years.


Assistant General Manager of the fair Danny Aguilar says he’s already seeing the tourism boom on Delaware’s beaches and at other local events.


“They may not be doing the big, big travelling quite yet, but they’re certainly taking in, from a tourism standpoint, live entertainment and regional entertainment. And we — for 102 years — have provided exactly that, whether it’s fair food, exhibits, carnival rides or just livestock education. There's so much for all ten days.”


Aguilar says many of the fair's traditions still remain, like the Dover building showcasing locally produced goods and crafts from around the peninsula.


“The exhibits themselves are for me one of our favorite ways to really demonstrate what’s great about Delaware. And we’ve got amazing photography displays and exhibits. We also have culinary, blue ribbon quilts, flower arrangements. The Dover building is a great spotlight to that.”


And other staples to the fair remain, including the carnival and livestock shows — visitors even have a chance to feed a giraffe.


And this year brings more food vendors. Visitors can get anything from Puerto Rican delicacies to deep-fried Snickers.


Aguilar says his favorite part is the concerts, and says tickets are still available. COVID precautions, including separating attendees into pods, are still in place.


Organizers also took lessons from last year’s fair. Aguilar says sanitation has always been a priority, since attendees pet animals, walk through the livestock barns, and visit other interactive exhibits. Hand washing stations and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the park — And any unvaccinated visitors are highly recommended to wear a mask when visiting.


Visitors might also notice livestock shows will operate differently than before. Different animals — such as dairy versus beef cows — will be let into the exhibit halls at different days and times. In past fairs, all those cows would be housed in the same building all 10 days.


Aguilar says spacing out and separating the livestock exhibitions more will make it easier for the exhibitors and put less stress on the animals by keeping them in the buildings for a shorter time.


Organizers hope the fair can match attendance records set back in 2019 during the fair’s centennial celebration, where over 300,000 people visited the fairgrounds over the ten-day period.


Aguilar says he’s noting a lot of excitement building in the area, he says some people are already visiting the fairgrounds just to see what’s going on this year, and what to expect.


The fair opens Thursday the 22nd and runs through the end of the month. Tickets are available on the state fair’s website.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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