To some people, the Delaware State Fair is a place to hang out for a day or evening. For others, it is an opportunity to take their family for frequent visits during the fair’s 10-day run to experience the rides, agricultural and livestock exhibits, and fine fair food available on the fairgrounds in Harrington. But to others, like myself, the fair is 10 days of fun, chaos and memories that will last a lifetime.
For the typical fairgoer, the fair opens at 8 in the morning and closes at 11 at night, to those who camp, the fair is always open. In reality – with the packing, delivering entries and most importantly taking the camper out to the site — the fair starts almost a week before it actually opens. You would think that staying at the fair all day, every day, for 10 straight days gets boring, but you would be wrong. Many of us start counting down until the next year’s fair almost as soon as the current years end, we love it that much.
I have been attending the Delaware State Fair since 1996, the year I was born. In 21 years, I have yet to miss the fair. Since college, I have only been able to make it down for the first and last weekend, but I still made it.
When I was younger all I cared about was running around and collecting as many of the free pencils and Frisbees as possible. One year my brother and I gathered over 150 pencils! Now I play football, walk around to see who I know, play man hunt around the entire fair, play catch in the middle of a hail storm or dance in the rain with my best friend, that’s the real fair, the behind the scenes, the things that most people don’t realize.
Families who camp even have a special set of competitions just for themselves and those “Grove Games” can get serious. For those five hours on the last Saturday morning of fair, we are professional athletes. There is the egg toss, spoon race, the race, and the infamous piggy back ride race. These games are a sight to behold because it isn’t just the kids taking part; it’s the adults as well. Even the former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse has been known to occasionally take part in the games; however, he is always the announcer. Just a few years ago a corn hole competition was added, and now everyone from all age groups wants to hold the title of “The Delaware State Fair Corn Hole Champion.” The Grove Games are a perfect way to end the Delaware State Fair with a bang.
By the end of the week many kids are seen in their friend’s campers more than their own because being in close quarters with your parents for that long, might not end so well. More than once even I have been known to go to a friend’s camper to grab a snack or dinner if my camper doesn’t have quite what I’m craving. My mom often says that “even the good Lord and his son wouldn’t get along after the 10 days of fair in the same camper,” but somehow every year we make it through and continue to come back.
Ask around The Grove or the back lot, camping at the Delaware State Fair makes the stress and chaos of fair all worth it in the end. From the memories that are made and the friends that are gained, the Delaware State Fair is one of the favorite yearly events for those who camp all 10 days.