The Delaware State Fair runs July 18-27.

At state fair: competitions, concerts, carnival, corn dogs

Ken MammarellaHeadlines, Culture

The Delaware State Fair runs July 18-27.

The Delaware State Fair runs July 18-27.

For 10 days at the end of July, the Harrington area booms with the Delaware State Fair.

Attendance topped 308,000 in 2023, and it takes hundreds of volunteers and employees to entertain, feed and inform them.

“It sure does” take a lot of hands, said Audrey Gary, who as superintendent of the flowers competitive department counts on eight assistant superintendent and as many judges, plus friends and family members to run the 106 classes in that department.

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And flowers is just one of nine competitive departments in the 105th fair, which began to promote agriculture and give “pleasures and diversions to the inhabitants of rural communities” in Delaware.

The 4-H department has 337 classes. The arts and crafts department has 326 classes. The needlework department has 215 classes. The culinary department has 170 classes. The children’s department has 147 classes. The garden vegetable department has 112 classes. The farm, fruit and apiary department has 65 classes. Another department is FFA, for the future farmers of America.

Livestock is also exhibited and auctioned.

The competitions largely showcase static displays of items prepared in advance, but there are also more than a dozen contests that are judged or run live, such as a horse pull on July 19, bar cookies on July 19, flower arranging on July 20, Legos on July 20, cupcakes on July 21, ice cream making on July 22, berries on July 22, horse shoe pitching on July 22-27, kids using cake mixes on July 23, peach recipes on July 24, kids’ creative cooking on July 25, pretty animals on July 26, pies on July 26 and chocolate on July 27.

This year’s fair runs July 18-27 at the fairgrounds just south of Harrington. Besides all the agricultural competitions, contests, displays and related activities, other crowd pleasers include a midway of almost 50 rides and classic carnival fare like corn dogs and fried Oreos, concerts at the grandstand and other forms of entertainment, like parades, throughout the fairgrounds.

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Gary has run the flowers department for about five years, and that’s built on more than a dozen years as a competitor. She began by decorating Christmas trees – including one where she made decorations to represent every state – and a streak of victories. She then moved over to decorating doors – and more wins – before she was asked to join the department’s committee.

“I save everything I’ve ever made,” she said of her crafts (but not the trees nor the doors), because she never knows what might look good with a new theme. This year’s theme is “small state, big fun.”

“I start working [as a department superintendent] as soon as I know the theme, which is in January,” she said. The theme then suggests how to decorate the risers where exhibits are displayed.

“It’s a lot of time,” Gary said, “but it’s something to enjoy, and it’s something for Delaware.”

What you need to know about the state fair

Gate admission is free-$10 online, with deals for those donating canned goods on July 22, for children on July 23, for active duty and retired military on July 24 and for seniors on July 25.

Wade Shows is again providing the carnival rides. The carnival is open 5-11 p.m. July 18 and 1-11 p.m. the other days.

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Here’s the grandstand lineup. Ticket prices don’t include the service fee.

  • Rick Springfield, with Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, July 18, $35-$69.
  • John Pardi, with Walker Montgomery, July 19, $64-$99.
  • Ludacris, with DJ Infamous, July 20, $49-$84.
  • Jordan Davis, with Greylan James, July 21, $54-$89.
  • Cooper Alan, with Thomas Mac, July 22, $29-$64.
  • We the Kingdom, with Consumed by Fire, July 23, $29-$64.
  • Brantley Gilbert, July 24, $59-$84.
  • Harness racing, July 25.
  • Demolition derby, July 26, $18-$20.
  • Turnpike Troubadours, July 27, $69-$99.

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