Fairgoers prepare for rainy weather

HARRINGTON – Visitors to the Delaware State Fair seemed to be in a race against the weather on Friday.

Most didn’t seem to mind as they arrived early and were well-prepared with umbrellas, ponchos and some with plans to spend lots of time in the indoor exhibits and the barns.

The rain began to fall a little after 2 p.m. and picked up in intensity the rest of the afternoon.

A flash-flood watch went in effect at 2 p.m. Friday and will last until 2 p.m. today.

The weather always seems to be a big issue for the annual July fair, whether it’s the sweat-soaking heat of the opening weekend or the potential for thunderstorms.

Johnny Ottinger, of Bridgeville, was in a race of his own on Friday. He was covering up vital parts of his car’s engine prior to the Demolition Derby presented by Manlove Auto Parts.

Danny Boone and his daughter Sophie, center, pet the Delaware State Police horses at the Delaware State Fair on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Mr. Ottinger, who has been driving in the demolition derby for the past 32 years, said the wet conditions would probably be a benefit for the daredevil competitors.

“When it’s wet you don’t get as many hard hits and everything and the car actually slides over when it’s hit,” he said. “It’s good for safety though because sometimes we get to hitting really hard here and it might be a little bit better that we slow down a little bit.

Hudson Hayes, 6, poses with his pony the Flying Gambado during the State 4H Horse & Pony Show at the Delaware State Fair on Friday.

Addison Hayes, 8, poses with her horse Skippy during the State 4H Horse & Pony Show

“You’re still going to get hit and wrecked. People don’t realize that this ain’t bumper cars. This is the real deal.”

Of his car, Mr. Ottinger said, it took “about three months to build and around 15 minutes to tear it up.”

Terri Horner, of Milton, was headed with her family to the exit gates at around 2:30 after spending some quality time on the carnival rides.

“We knew buying the tickets that we were taking a chance and we’re OK with that,” she said. “We wanted to ride, so we got out here at about 1 o’clock. We rode about 18 rides, so we’re good. We brought umbrellas so we were very prepared.”

Everything went on as scheduled throughout the day, including the 4-H Archery competition and Animal Science demonstration.

Crowds walk near the food concessions at the Delaware State Fair on Friday.

However, as the afternoon went on, more and more people headed for their cars or the indoor exhibits ahead of the dire weather predictions that were calling for severe thunderstorms and heavy rain.

Sarah Morales traveled from western Maryland to see the crash and crunch of the demolition derby.

“The demolition derby is the main reason I’m here, but it’s also nice that it’s less crowded,” Ms. Morales said.

The foul weather was viewed as a plus for those like her and Charles Goodman, of Milford.

“The weather doesn’t bother me,” Mr. Goodman said. “I love the food at the fair. (Friday) was a bonus. I’ve got my food and I didn’t have to wait in line.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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