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2017 Delaware State Fair Summary Press Release


2017 Delaware State Fair Summary Press Release


August 1, 2017

HARRINGTON, DE – Another July Tradition has closed the books as the 98th Annual Delaware State Fair comes to a roaring finish. The Delaware State Fair celebrated summer traditions throughout all ten fun-filled days. The fair enjoyed a mix of summer heat, intense rain and a few cool fall-like nights.

The 2017 Delaware State Fair enjoyed strong attendance with 287,632 fairgoers visiting the fairgrounds in Harrington, DE. Overall attendance saw a 10% increase of rebound over last year’s attendance numbers. With close to 300,000 visitors attending the 2017 Delaware State Fair, organizers pronounced the 98th annual Delaware State Fair a huge success.

Compared to last year when the Fair was faced with excessive heat warnings for almost the entire run, the 2017 Fair experienced a healthy dose of more fair-friendly weather. Fair General Manager Bill DiMondi indicated that the Fair was blessed with a nice return to cooler temperatures and only one day was completely rained out (Friday 7/28/2017). He went on to comment that “The combination of a cooler temps, a mix of very strong entertainment offerings, first class livestock and competitive exhibits and a supportive Fair community helped boost the attendance 10% compared to last year.”

“This year’s opening was pretty tough weather-wise when we experienced mid to high 90°s for the first four days of Fair (heat indices were reported approaching 105° on opening Thursday July 20th)” said Fair Manager DiMondi. Despite starting the 2017 Fair in the midst of the third heat wave to strike the Del-Mar-Va peninsula this summer, the weather moderated substantially for the last 7 days with daytime highs in the mid 80°s and evening lows all the way down in the mid 60°s. DiMondi continued: “The return to cooler non-traditional fair weather brought tons of visitors some sporting sweaters at night, which is a rarity around these parts especially in July.”

“We were prepared for the heat on the front end of the Fair”, DiMondi said “and we certainly got hit with it. Fortunately for everyone including our patrons, vendors, exhibitors and the livestock being shown at the Fair, the weather moderated mid-Fair and

despite experiencing a full day and night of rain on Friday July 28th, we rebounded nicely from the heat and finished exceptionally strong on Saturday July 29th with a sold-out Brantley Gilbert concert.”

For the second year in a row, the Fair experimented with the concept of holding a concert the day before the Fair officially opened. This year, on Wednesday July 19th, up and coming country star Jon Pardi headlined with Chis Lane as an opener and helped kick off an extremely strong M&T Bank Grandstand concert lineup.

The start of the official M&T Bank Grandstand entertainment schedule kicked off with the return of the Painted Pony PRCA Rodeo making an appearance on the front track followed by a night of Monster Truck Meltdown presented by Delaware Volunteer Firefighter’s Association.

On Saturday July 22nd the M&T Bank Grandstand was overrun by over 4,000 craft beer, food truck and 70’s music aficionados as they celebrated the third year run of The Delaware State Fair’s Craft Beer Festival which featured music from the 70’s performed by the original groups: Foghat, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Pat Travers Band and Pure Prairie League. The Craft Beer Festival brought in over 25 brews from 11 Delaware based and 2 regional breweries for the tasting which ended the night with Fireworks presented by M&T Bank. Fair Manager Bill DiMondi commented: “This was the absolute biggest craft beer festival that we have ever had. With over 4,000 craft beer enthusiasts and music of the 70’s aficionados in attendance combined with all the best local craft beers we could find, we discovered our ‘sweet spot’ and plan to replicate this format for many years to come.”

Assistant General Manager and Marketing Director Danny Aguilar pointed out the continued success of the 2nd year of the VIP Concert Package that offered preferred seating in the first few rows or a place in the pit coupled with VIP parking adjacent to the front gate, a voucher good for food and beverages in the Fair’s Roost (Beer and Wine Court) along with access to a private raised concert viewing area, private bars and air-conditioned rest rooms. Mr. Aguilar noted that 3 shows’ VIP packages were completely sold out several months before Fair and that he is already hard at work identifying additional amenities to include in next year’s VIP concert packages.

Darius Rucker, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Rascal Flatts, Crowder, Manlove Auto Parts’ Demolition Derby, and a sold out Brantley Gilbert concert all helped to deliver a strong entertainment lineup enjoyed by almost 50,000 fans from all over the peninsula.

The Fair played host to a record 66 corporate sponsors this year. New sponsors for the 2017 Fair were Alban Cat, Atlantis Homes, Cheerwine, DuPont Pioneer, Gootees Marine, Titos Vodka and more. Other corporate sponsors included M&T Bank, Food Lion, Hertrich Family of Auto Dealerships, Delaware Electric Cooperative, I.G. Burton,

Delaware Lottery, Discover Bank, Grotto Pizza, among several others. According to Danny Aguilar, “Continued support provided by sponsors allows the Fair to provide our patrons with a variety of great summertime entertainment and memories”.

On the carnival side, The Wade Shows provided 56 rides including 5 super-spectacular class rides such as The Big Wheel, the RC-48 steel roller coaster and Delusion. The Carnival provided a great blend of rides and games of chance for the adults and kids of all ages.

It’s always of great importance for Fair officials to continue to ensure a strong balance of grounds entertainment and agriculturally minded entertainment and exhibits. The Delaware FFA organization and its affiliated chapters staffed the Fair’s John Curtis, Sr. Memorial Barnyard Petting Zoo and hosted the Fair’s new Barn Tours program which offered guided tours of all the barns with introductions to and information about all the various species of animals exhibited at the Fair. Both experiences were developed to help introduce the world of livestock to individuals visiting the Fair, most of who were not raised on or ever set foot on a farm. Another Ag related program was the Antique Machinery Showcase on Saturday, July 22nd which featured agricultural craft demonstrations and live bluegrass music from the group Flatland Drive. Other Ag themed entertainment included the antique tractor display, horse pull competition, antique tractor pull, livestock shows, baby chick displays, kiddie pedal tractor pulls and much more.

This year’s new grounds attractions included a very popular and talented family band “Redhead Express”, Comedian jugglers Matt Baker and Jeff Bradley. Other grounds entertainment included an appearance from Peppa Pig, Butterfly Encounter, Circus Hollywood viewed for the first time in air-conditioned comfort compliments of Discover Bank, racing pigs, a menagerie of exotic animals including Twiggs, the giraffe, camel rides and the popular Jurassic Dinosaur Adventure area. “In all, over the ten days of fair, patrons were treated to over 1,133 hours of programmed entertainment which was provided at no additional cost beyond gate admission, not to mention all of the competition (competitive exhibits and livestock) and judging including the annual Livestock Extravaganza” said Assistant GM Aguilar.

Livestock, 4-H, FFA and other forms of competitive exhibits dominated the fairgrounds once again. The Fair received and processed over 41,000 entries this year coming from 4,328 exhibitors. Over 3,100 goats, pigs, sheep, horses, ponies, rabbits, poultry, two giraffes (“Millman” and “Twiggs”) and a small caravan of camels (12 in number) called the

Fairgrounds home for the last 10 days of July. General Manager DiMondi with a chuckle remarked: “With last Friday’s near record 24-hour rainfall amount coupled with the huge animal population, we almost had our own version of Noah’s Ark going on here in Harrington”.

The Junior Livestock Auction, which represents the culmination of a junior 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 experienced another strong year as 138 animals were sold for slightly less than $200,000 that was distributed to junior exhibitors who owned the top placing junior market animals.

“This year’s fair will certainly be one to remember as we reflect back on another successful fair. Collectively, the hard work of our volunteers, Board members, & staff is a demonstration of how the community comes together for this great July Tradition called the Delaware State Fair,” commented the President of the Delaware State Fair Board of Directors Ron Draper.

The Fair dates for the 99th annual Delaware State Fair in 2018 are Thursday July 19, 2018 through Saturday July 28, 2018.

For further information please contact Danny Aguilar at 302-398-5903 or


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