The centennial celebration topped an all-time cumulative attendance record during the 10 days of the fair and also set marks for best weekday attendance July 24 and the most closing-day visitors July 27.
The Delaware State Fair centennial celebration made history by shattering records that have stood for many years.
The fair broke an all-time cumulative attendance record with 328,000 visitors during the 10 days from July 18-27, a 12% increase over last year. The fair topped an all-time closing day attendance record when almost 54,000 patrons visited on the final day.
An all-time weekday attendance record was set Wednesday, July 24 with almost 48,000 visitors -- the day after the infamous heat wave finally broke in favor of milder daytime temperatures, lower humidity and cool, crisp nights.
"The first five days of the fair were brutal in terms of hot weather that directly impacted patrons, exhibitors and animals when heat indices averaged 108 degrees," said Bill DiMondi, general manager. "Tuesday was a day of weather transition when the area was doused with a full day of rain. Finally, when great weather arrived last Wednesday and hung around through closing on Saturday night it seemed like the entire Delmarva peninsula decided it was time to visit the fair and boy were we ready for every one of those visitors."
Board of directors president Ron Draper said, "Celebrating the fair’s 100th anniversary was a wonderful occasion that was the result of countless hours of creative planning by the staff and the board of directors. This was not your usual run-of-the-mill fair. This was a once-in-a-century celebration and everyone caught the centennial spirit."
Draper said this fair was designed to be "very special" and included "one of the best concert lineups in the fair's history," along with fireworks eight out of the 10 nights, the daily distribution of free Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets as 100th birthday cakes, and the usual complement of great livestock competitions, 4-H and FFA exhibits and an "extraordinary carnival featuring over 50 rides that thrilled patrons of all ages."
Junior Livestock Auction sales
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, 120 animals were sold for about $194,000 that went to junior exhibitors who owned the top placing junior market animals.
"This year, we celebrated the community coming together for 100 years in order to continue this wonderful July tradition known as The Delaware State Fair," said DiMondi. "We appreciate the hard work of all the planners and organizers and how the Fair has evolved over the past 100 years and look forward to preserving the traditions that have made the fair, by far, the single largest annual event and gathering of people and animals on the entire peninsula."
The grandstand entertainment schedule featured two sold-out shows by Reba McEntire and the hot selling country duo Dan + Shay with great performances by Sugarland, Gladys Knight, Darci Lynne, Brantley Gilbert, Brothers Osborne and Bethel Music -- and the fan favorite Demo Derby.
In all, about 50,000 fans attended the M&T Bank Grandstand performances this year.
Assistant General Manager Danny Aguilar noted the "pit" tickets directly in front of the stage and the VIP concert packages were in high demand.
"The fair enjoyed partnerships with a record number of corporate sponsors this year including for the first time, a presenting sponsor, Corteva Agriscience," said Aguilar. "Corteva is the new Delaware based spin-off of the agricultural seed and chemical lines of DowDuPont, which played a significant role supporting this year’s Fair with the celebration of everything agriculture by taking the lead in educating the non-farming public about the role that Delaware and Maryland play in the world’s food supply and by celebrating the designation of the Vanderwende family from Bridgeville as the 2019 Farm Family of the Year."
Additional blue-ribbon sponsors include Food Lion, Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships, Delaware Lottery, Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Delaware, Delaware Electric Cooperative, All-Span, Pepsi and the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Aguilar said, "Their support allows the Fair to provide its patrons with the finest in entertainment throughout the grounds including the 10-day appearance of the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdale hitch team and daily performances by Circus Hollywood."
Fair dates in 2020 are Thursday, July 23 to Saturday, August 1.