Delaware State Fair
"Your Passport to Summer Fun"
The Delaware State Fair, as it is known today, began as an idea quietly conceived around a potbelly stove in the Harrington railroad station in 1919. The number of community-focused residents interested in starting this enterprise grew quickly as word of the plan leaked out. As the number who showed up for meetings grew, it became obvious that the railroad station could no longer serve as the meeting spot, and the group began to meet at the fire hall. The drive of these ambitious men helped formulate the Kent and Sussex County Fair which was incorporated in January 1920.
The original purpose of the corporation 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.”
On February 17, 1920, 30 acres were purchased for $6,000 and helped to formulate the layout of the track and grandstand. With plans for exhibits in seven categories, the first Fair opened on time on July 27, 1920 and continued for four days. Admission was 25 cents for children 6 to 12 and adult admission was 50 cents. Parking wasn’t free back then, as each vehicle was charged 25 cents. Through admission and ticket sales of events such as the “Big Motorcycle Race” and harness racing, the Fair achieved a net profit of $43.90. The profit and the patrons’ indication of having had a wonderful time prompted plans for the next year’s Fair with plans to make it “Bigger and Better Than Ever.”
Today, the Kent and Sussex County Fair is now known as the Delaware State Fair and boasts attendance of over 307,000. As it exists today, the nearly 300 acre fairground encompasses several businesses including The Centre Ice Rink and the Harrington Raceway and Casino. Despite the awesome trend of bringing dynamic entertainers and a thrilling carnival, the Fair maintains its roots in agriculture. And every year the Fair continues its tradition of being “Bigger and Better Than Ever.”