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2016 Delaware State Fair Summary Press Release

2016 Delaware State Fair Summary Press Release


August 4, 2016

HARRINGTON, DE – The place where everyone came to find their ‘Slice of Summer Fun’, The Delaware State Fair continued for the 97th time celebrating summer rituals and family traditions throughout ten fun-filled days. Despite the record breaking heat, the 2016 Delaware State Fair enjoyed strong attendance with 262,587 fairgoers visiting the Fair, down 15% from last year.

Compared to last year when the Fair was blessed by a healthy dose of fair-friendly weather, the 2016 Fair was conducted through the summer’s most significant heat wave to-date. The 97th Delaware State Fair saw a steady stream of National Weather Service issued heat advisories and experienced heat indices in excess of 100° for 7 out of the 10 days. RealFeel temps peaked at 114° on Monday, July 25th. Violent thunderstorms raked through the fairgrounds on Governors’ Day, Thursday, July 28th, the same day that a tornado was reported in nearby Trappe, MD in Talbot County and a water spout was seen off the beaches in Fenwick Island and Ocean City. Thursday’s weather set the stage for the return of much cooler temperatures on the closing Friday and Saturday which in turn drew close to record setting crowds comprised of patrons who held off visiting the Fair earlier in the week due to the extreme temperatures. Fair General Manager Bill DiMondi indicated that he can’t remember it being so hot for such an extended period of time. He went on to joke that “perhaps our slogan should have been revised to say find your ‘slice of hot summer fun’ in order to be more accurate.” “With a Fair or major outdoor event being held on the Del-Mar peninsula during the last 10 days of July, you expect extremes in weather, however, this year was clearly one for the records” DiMondi continued.

Despite the really hot weather, the Fair was enjoyed by over 262,000 patrons, a 15% decline compared to 2015’s near-record attendance. Most of the patrons scheduled their visits in the evenings when temperatures moderated back into the mid-70’s. “We were prepared for the heat”, DiMondi said. “With the cooperation of The Wade Shows, the carnival provider, a whole bunch of food vendors on the grounds and all our competitive exhibit departments, we created many shaded spots for families to rest. Cool zones with patron seating opportunities in many of the air-conditioned exhibit buildings were prepared and identified for use by overheated patrons looking to cool down and rehydrate.”

Assistant General Manager and Director of Sponsorship Development Danny Aguilar expressed his appreciation to the many sponsors whose support for the Fair allows for an unforgettable experience for the almost 300,000 annual fair visitors.

Mr. Aguilar stated, “The M&T Bank Grandstand continues to play a crucial role in bringing nationally recognized entertainment to the Delmarva Peninsula. The Fair is extremely proud and genuinely appreciative in announcing the successful conclusion of discussions with M&T Bank that will result in M&T Bank signing on for another 5 years as title sponsor of the M&T Bank Grandstand.” Nick Lambrow, President of M&T Bank’s Delaware Region stated, “As the leading bank in the state, we are proud to support The Delaware State Fair, the single largest attraction in Delaware and which has such a positive impact on the lives of so many Delawareans who attend or exhibit at the Fair.” Mr. Lambrow continued, “We have sponsored the State Fair for nearly 25 years, and this new agreement will extend our support through 2021. M&T looks forward to continuing our role in bringing top-level entertainment to the M&T Bank Grandstand and enriching the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of fans who come from all over the Delmarva Peninsula.”

Filling the entertainment void created by the sudden departure of last year’s Live Nation produced Delaware Junction and Red Frog produced Big Barrel country music festivals, The Delaware State Fair scheduled a first-ever pre-fair concert featuring upcoming country headliner Jake Owen who played to a nearly sold-out crowd eager to get their fill of country rock. The Jake Owen concert was held on Wednesday July 20th, the day before the official opening of the 10-day Fair.

The stage was also set for the very successful second year run of The Delaware State Fair’s Craft Beer Festival which featured music from nationally renowned Blues Traveler and the regional band Lower Case Blues. The Craft Beer Festival brought in 60 separate craft brews from 20 different breweries, both local and national, for the tasting and ended the night with fireworks presented by M&T Bank.

George Thorogood and the Destroyers with The Fabulous Thunderbirds made a triumphant return to his home state of Delaware when he entertained an enthusiastic crowd on Friday July 29th with his brand of hard-driving rock and roll. Never having played below the canal, Thorogood indicated his delight in playing the Fair noting that it took him nearly 40 years to get downstate. During his encore, Thorogood said that he would love to continue an annual tradition of playing at the Fair.

A Fair favorite that returned to the M&T Bank Grandstand was the Monster Truck Meltdown presented by Delaware Volunteer Firefighter’s Association. Manlove Auto Parts’ Demolition Derby, Jeff Dunham, Little Big Town with Kristian Bush presented by Delaware Lottery, Alabama, for King & Country with Sidewalk Prophets and Jordan Feliz, X Ambassadors, Rachel Platten and A Great Big World all helped to deliver another dose of diverse entertainment enjoyed by all age groups coming from all over the peninsula.

Additionally, Painted Pony, a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo returned once again to the Fair. Cowboys and cowgirls in tall hats and boots poured into the Quillen Arena to enjoy the event.

On the carnival side, The Wade Shows provided 58 rides and attractions with several new and recently refurbished super-spectacular class rides making their first ever appearance in Harrington. The carnival is not immune to the effects of the extremely hot temperatures and as a result their gross was down 16% compared to 2015.

It’s always of great importance for Fair officials to ensure a strong balance of grounds entertainment and agriculturally minded entertainment and exhibits. The FFA organization (Future Farmers of America) continued with the John Curtis, Sr. Memorial Barnyard during the first six days of the Fair. The Birthing Center returned for the final four days where many were able to witness the birth of eleven calves! 2016 brought an enhanced Antique Machinery Showcase that ran all day Saturday, July 23rd and which featured agricultural craft demonstrations and live bluegrass music from the group Flatland Drive. Other ag themed forms of entertainment were the Antique Tractor displays, Horse Pull competition, Antique Tractor Pull, livestock shows, baby chick displays, kiddie pedal tractor pulls and more.

The Fair’s continued commitment to offer great entertainment for the price of admission all throughout the grounds sent the Free Entertainment Tent on a move across the fairgrounds to a new location in the Farm Machinery Lot near the 4-H and FFA Exhibits in the Centre Ice Rink. While it may have been a short walk from the old location, it brought new patrons to the northern area of the grounds and gave them a chance to experience various offerings in the Machinery Lot along their way. A new attraction this year was the Prehistoric Dinosaur Adventure. This new attraction to the grounds was sought out by many with the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex causing shuttle-stopping sized crowds! Children loved the T-Rex, dig pits and families enjoyed the walk through mobile museum.

The Fair expanded its use of various mobile and social media platforms to communicate with its patrons, exhibitors, visitors and vendors. The Fair extensively used such platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as the Delaware State Fair App (available on both iOS and Android smartphones). This year Snapchat, a photo-based app, was added to the lineup of social media communication tools the Fair utilizes. The return of the Fair’s mobile app allowed us to reach over 4,000 fairgoers and highlight weather alerts, contests, livestock information and other daily happenings.

Assistant General Manager Danny Aguilar commented on the various promotions the Fair utilizes to offer substantial discounts to the public, “The continued in-store pre-Fair Walgreens promotion offering discounted gate admission tickets and ride wristbands at over 75 Walgreens locations in Delaware, as well as Maryland’s lower eastern shore, gave our patrons even greater access to affordable ways to enjoy their experience here at the Fair.” Participation in the Walgreens promotional program more than doubled from last year. Aguilar continued “we hope to continue to bring patrons great savings while continuing to offer the highest level of entertainment at the Fair.”

This year’s new grounds attractions included the X-Pogo Stunt Team, The Procrastinators and Scott’s Future of Magic Show. Circus Hollywood, the racing pigs, two petting zoos, a menagerie of exotic animals including Twiggs, the giraffe, Twiggs’ friend Melman, the giraffe and Catherine Hickland, the world renowned hypnotist returned again this year. “Throughout the ten days of the 2016 Fair, patrons were treated to almost 1,000 hours of programmed entertainment which was provided at no additional cost beyond gate admission. This also included all of the livestock competitions, the Annual Livestock Extravaganza as well as the Junior Livestock Auction” said Assistant GM Aguilar.

The Junior Livestock Auction, which represents the finale of an 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 raised over $187,000 which will be distributed to youth exhibitors who chose to sell their prize livestock.

Competitive and livestock exhibits continued to reign supreme at this year’s Fair and remained a huge attraction to the young and old alike. This year 37,000 exhibits were entered by 3,202 exhibitors. 2016 saw a slight increase in the number of animals exhibited at the Fair with 3,251 animals calling the fairgrounds home for the last 10 days of July. With a change of entries programs this year Delaware 4-H Online participants were able to integrate their existing accounts with the Fair’s entry account. With various changes to the registration, check-in and judging processes, the Delaware State Fair continues to utilize technology in new ways showcasing advancements and improving efficiency.

The Fair played host to a record 64 corporate sponsors this year. Assistant GM, Danny Aguilar said “The Fair is proud to offer the vast variety of summertime entertainment all in one stop, but it relies on the support that is provided to us by our sponsors. We are proud to partner with them and appreciate their continued support.” New sponsors for the 2016 Fair were Ram Trucks, Sweet Serenity Chocolates, Hawaiian Moon, Oceane Beauty, Dole Packaged Foods, Ready Companies, Taylor & Messick, Office of Highway Safety, Hot Tubs, Inc., Kathy McGuiness, Delaware Beer & Wine Festival, Friends of John Carney, HealthSouth Rehab Facility of Middletown, Citizens for Pro Business Delaware and Fred Drake Automotive among several others.

The fifth Annual Food Lion Hunger Relief Day showed again how a sponsor contributes not only to the Fair but the community as a whole. Fairgoers were once again given the opportunity to exchange five Food Lion brand non-perishable food items for free admission to the Fair on Monday, July 25th. Over 13,000 pounds of non-perishable food items were brought to the Fairgrounds that day and distributed to Delaware’s needy through the Food Bank of Delaware.

“This year’s Fair was unlike any other. But the unruly heat didn’t keep our faithful patrons away. As staff, volunteers, vendors, sponsors and patrons reflect back on this year’s Fair they’ll be sure to recall the smiling faces of many, the hard work of all and the dedication of a community that comes together once a year at the end of July. Each year we take a trip back to the traditions of the past for great entertainment and a whole lot of fun, that a Fair as great as ours provides. The Board of Directors are proud of the success of the 2016 Fair and are already hard at work on planning for the 2017 Fair,” commented the President of The Delaware State Fair Board of Directors, Ron Draper.

The Fair dates for the 2017 Delaware State Fair are Thursday, July 20, 2017 through Saturday, July 29, 2017.

For further information please contact Danny Aguilar at 302-632-4991 or

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