The Delaware State Fair this year promises to be back with all the fun, rides, food and agricultural highlights it’s known for – planned with COVID-19 guidance in mind.
The fair – July 22-31 to the Harrington Fairgrounds – was the first state fair held in 2020, as state governments coped with the rapidly evolving pandemic. Last year’s fair lacked big-name entertainers and some rides and foods. Access and other elements changed to cope with social distancing rules.
The pandemic is still evolving, which is why a thousand-word email sent recently to potential exhibitors delineates multiple precautions to control the pandemic. It also hedges that some guidelines will change as state guidelines change.
The fair’s policy for concerts is more explicit. “Due to the uncertainty of what precise public health guidance will be in place in July 2021 and how that translates into where specific seats will be located in a yet to be determined socially distant concert seating configuration, the M&T Bank Grandstand ticket buying process will definitely be different this year,” the first question on the FAQ says. “The biggest change will be the fair’s need to implement ‘delayed seat assignments.’”
Danny Aguilar, the fair’s assistant general manager and director of marketing, said he expects a full complement of about 54 rides and a full commitment of classic fair food. Plus, local institutions like the Delaware State Grange, with its chicken platters, and the Delaware Farm Bureau, with its hand-dipped milkshakes, plan to return after skipping last year.
“We’ll follow all the protocols we established in 2020,” he said, “and we’re looking forward to a great 2021.”
Besides the state’s rules on mask usage and social distancing, the fair has set up some of its own. Exhibitors won’t be able to eat or drink in the barns. Barns will hold only one species at a time. The audience capacity for all livestock shows in the New Castle and Kent barns will be calculated closer to opening, based on the latest state capacity guidelines. Shows in the Quillen Arena will not be impacted by these attendance restrictions.
Just like last year, the Junior Livestock Auction will be virtual, and the Livestock Extravaganza and Pretty Animal Contest has been canceled.
Competitive exhibits are planned in nine categories: 4-H; FFA; Arts & Crafts; Children; Culinary; Farm, Fruit & Apiary; Flower; Garden Vegetable; and Needlework.
About 20 contests are planned, with sampling out for the culinary contests.
The Roots & Boots tour is at the fairgrounds, but before the fair. The performance on June 12, unites three of the voices who defined ’90s country music: Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye. Tickets are $25-$60 (plus service fee).
Sam Hunt, a soulful singer from rural Georgia, opens the entertainment on the M&T Bank Grandstand on July 22. Tickets are $52-99 (plus service fee), with a VIP experience $150.
Lauren Alaina and Maddie & Tae perform July 24. Alaina is known as the “sassy Southerner with killer pipes.” Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye are best known for their debut single “Girl in a Country Song.” Tickets are $20-$60 (plus service fee) with a VIP experience $150.
The demolition derby is July 25. Tickets are $10-$12 (plus ticket fee).
The Grammy-winning TobyMac performs July 26. Tickets are $20-$60 (plus service fee), with a VIP experience $150.
The 12-member Tedeschi Trucks Band performs July 27 with St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Tickets are $47-$87 (plus service fee), with a VIP experience $150.
Riley Green – known for “There Was This Girl,” the debut No. 1 single that he wrote – performs July 28 with Hardy and Jon Langston. Tickets are $25-$65 (plus service fee), with a VIP experience $150.
Harness racing is free on July 29.
The I Love the ’90s Tour on July 30 involves a revolving lineup, with the fair promoting Vanilla Ice, All 4 One, Young MC and The Funky Bunch. Tickets are $30-$70 (plus service fee), with a VIP experience $150.
Hank Williams Jr., who has been recording since 1964, performs July 31 with the Desert City Ramblers. Tickets are $35-$75 (plus ticket fee), with a VIP experience $150.