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2018 Delaware State Fair

Harrington Fair Grounds 1935

Written on: July 19th, 2018 in Blog Posts

Thursday, July 19th, is the first day of the 2018 Delaware State Fair in Harrington, marking the 99th year of the fair. Do you know the origins of the State Fair? Read on to learn more, and to find out what’s happening at the 2018 Fair. 

Origins of the State Fair

There were many attempts at starting a state fair, including Wilmington in 1869, Dover in 1869, and Elsmere in 1917.¹ However, the Delaware State Fair as we know it today was thought of in 1919 in Harrington, and was first held a year later in 1920 under the name “The Kent and Sussex County Fair”. The purpose of the original corporation set up to host the Kent and Sussex County Fair was:
“to have or manage a fair or exposition for the purpose of promoting and encouraging Agriculture and of giving pleasures and diversions to the inhabitants of rural communities within the State of Delaware.”²
The first Kent and Sussex County Fair in 1920 was held on the same grounds that it’s held on today. It lasted 4 days and admission was 25 cents for kids from 6-12 and 50 cents for adults. To park your car it was another 25 cents. The fair netted a profit of $43.90.²
Nearly 100 years since, the State Fair has added rides, food booths, and major concerts and performances. Today, the State Fair still remains a celebration of our agricultural industry. It provides youth and adults a way to showcase their agricultural products, demonstrate their knowledge and skill in showmanship and handling of livestock and horses; and enter into the indoor exhibits.
Sussex County Farm Bureau display at the Delaware State Fair 1920

Sussex County Farm Bureau display in 1920 at the Delaware State Fair

Whats Going On This Year

This year marks the 99th anniversary of the State Fair and there is plenty to do! Rides and food vendors are always a hit. Tour the blue ribbon winners in the agriculture pavilions. Take the kids to watch the sheep being sheared and to feel the shorn wool. See the visual differences between beef cattle and dairy cows. Hold baby chicks at the poultry. Check out antique tractors. And so much more! 

Governor Carney plays a game of egg toss at the 2017 fair.

Governor Carney plays a game of egg toss at the 2017 fair.

Thursday, July 26th, is Governor’s Day at the Fair. You might be able to meet Governor Carney touring the grounds and greeting folks. Learn to walk in waders, plant beach grass and sharpen your shorebird identification skills at the DNREC Volunteer Olympic Games. Meet the National Honeybee Queen who is coming down from Pennsylvania. There will also be free admission to watch harness racing in The Grand Stand at 7 p.m.  

The State Fair runs from July 19th to July 26th, so be sure to bring the whole family down! See all events on the Delaware State Fair calendar. 

Photos courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives

¹. Delaware State Fair, Wikipedia

² History, Delaware State Fair 

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