Delaware State Fair brings its normal heat wave to Harrington

Roger Corbitt, with his daughter Genesis, 4, enjoy a cool soft drink in the shade at the Delaare State Fair on Monday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

HARRINGTON — Anyone who purchased an ice cream cone to beat the heat at the Delaware State Fair on Monday had to lick it up fast because it was not going to stay around very long.

That’s what Middletown’s Dwayne Nottingham found out as he and his son, Dylan, ate Vanderwende’s ice cream at around noon, with the temperatures at the fair topping out at over 90 degrees.

“You have to stay hydrated and keep aware of how your body is feeling,” Mr. Nottingham said. “I was telling (my son), you’ve got to lick that ice cream, or this heat is going to end up licking you.”

The heat wave is expected to stick around. The National Weather Service predicts the temperatures at the fair will top 90 degrees every day until Friday, when it has forecast a high of 86.

Emily Adams, who was working inside the Bridgeville-based Vanderwende’s Farm Creamery ice cream truck between the Midway and the barns, was expecting a busy day Monday.

Kirsten Kemp gives her pig Garey a cool bath.

“It’s going to be a pretty hot day, so we should be plenty busy,” Ms. Adams said. “It’s a great day for ice cream. I would say our most popular ice cream for the fair is definitely our pretzel salad. It’s just a super-popular flavor that everyone’s always looking for.”

Jill Tatman, a nurse from Milford who was staffing the First Aid and Nursing Station at the right corner of the M&T Bank Grandstand, said the challenge of having a fair during the COVID-19 pandemic has been very different.

“It’s been hot, probably not as hot as it’s going to be (Monday), but all this week, our entry of people who have come into First Aid have been very low compared to other years,” Ms. Tatman said. “The problem is this year, compared to other years, we can’t accommodate anyone to lay down and cool off.

“They’re either going to have to go home, or they’re going to have to go find a space in the shade or get in the air conditioning, like in the Dover Building or the Exhibit Hall, where there’s more space and a bigger area to cool off in.

“It’s a very different type of challenge, but the last three days, we’ve had a very low turnout (at First Aid). It’s like an in-and-out Band-Aid, Tylenol … not really a lot we’ve had to deal with. I think that’s because the crowds are down, but I don’t know what we’re going to expect. It’s nothing like we would expect to see normally.”

On hot a day, Kenny Baird still provides fresh straw for the livestock.

That’s a good thing.

While there were those ready to challenge the blistering hot, asphalt-covered area where the carnival rides and games were located, many were looking for air conditioning and shade Monday.

There are plenty of air-conditioned options for people to cool off while meandering through the state fair, such as the 4-H and FFA Building (The Centre Ice Arena), where guests can take a peek at all the exhibits entered by local 4-H and Future Farmers of America members throughout the state of Delaware. The building is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Allison Cusumuno from the state fair sanitation crew keeps the tables and seats sanitized for the visitors on a hot day.

There is also the Exhibit Hall, which is hosting a new butterfly exhibit, informational booths and vendors (11 a.m. until 10 p.m.) or the Dover Building, where people can see the best Delaware has to offer in culinary, children’s, needlework, arts and crafts, garden vegetables, flowers and farm, fruit and apiary (9 a.m. until 9 p.m.).

Other venues, while outside, still offer shade, such as the Quillen Arena (beef cattle show, horse shows and Antique Machinery Showcase); the Schabinger Pavilion (beef and dairy cattle); the Kent Building (sheep, pigs, Livestock Extravaganza and livestock auction); and the Delmarva Building (poultry barn), which hosts a chick display, along with rabbits and other poultry that are shown throughout the fair.

Chris Helsel of Harrington is a veteran of the fair, so he was prepared for anything that awaited him and his 10-year-old son, Draven, on Monday.

“We just got here about (11:30 a.m.), so we’ll just be drinking a lot of water and watching the heat,” Mr. Helsel said. “You can always tell when the fair’s coming, because it’s about 100 degrees the week before.

Roberto the Magnificent juggles the heat with entertainment.

“I’m glad the state fair is here. I’m sad to see that not everything is here, but it’s nice to see some of the regulars show up.”

Ms. Tatman said that if anyone feels overheated, sick or has any type of condition, the staff at the First Aid Center is prepared to spring into action.

“Fair week brings pop-up thundershowers, rain and high heat, and that’s normal,” she said. “We’ll treat whatever comes in the door. People just need to know that they need to stay hydrated and they need to take frequent breaks in a shaded area or inside the air conditioning. That should keep them safe and healthy.”

If all else fails, order an ice cream cone.