Governor’s Day at State Fair ‘like no other’

Gov. John Carney speaks on the Plaza stage during Governor’s Day at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

HARRINGTON — Gov. John Carney’s alternative lunch was yummy, he recounted after dining at a picnic table under a tent at the Roost early Thursday.

Attending the 101st Delaware State Fair required some adjustments to routine, and the governor’s annual feast at the Grange (not open) wasn’t possible.

So just after arriving at around 12:15 p.m., the governor removed his face covering and lunched at the Roost before making remarks at an awards and tributes ceremony near the Grandstand.

“It was awesome,” he said of the lunch offerings.

“It wasn’t the Grange, which of course is a tradition I really love. Obviously a lot of folks who work in The Grange are among our senior citizens and they’re the most vulnerable population, so it was the right thing to do.

Gov. John Carney enjoys a country chicken lunch at The Roost during Governor’s Day at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“The (Roost) chicken was great, the corn was awesome, the tomatoes were all really good (and) all Delaware produce by the way.”

One thing that hadn’t changed on Governor’s Day was the traditional heat, which rose above 90 degrees under clear skies by early afternoon.

While many state fairs were been called off this year, Delaware’s version pushed ahead, albeit in a modified fashion.

“We thought it was important that, if we could work out appropriate safety and health protections, to do it for the children, mostly for 4-H, (Future Farmers of America), for the folks (for whom this is a way of life,” Gov. Carney said.

Secretary of the Delaware Department of Agriculture Michael Scuse, right, presents Jamie Mack with the Division of Public Health and Delaware Health and Social Services a award for his work with making the Delaware State Fair safe during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“One hundred and one years is an incredible tradition but you have to do it safely.”

According to the governor, “This year under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic is like no other we can ever imagine but as your governor I can tell you I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of our state because I’ve seen thousands of Delawareans come together to make sacrifices for the good of (all). ..”

Tough decisions regarding traditional events in Delaware were required, some canceled for a year or altered, and state fair organizers found a way to push ahead with a much reviewed health and safety plan.

“I think they’re very different, each of them, and it’s not my job to second guess the decisions that Public Health has made based on the science they know and I don’t,” he said.

“It is my job to challenge them and the reasonableness of all that. …”

While an atypically sparse crowd walked through the fairgrounds on Thursday, having fans at NASCAR events in Dover would have presented unique challenges, according to the governor.

“(The) 20,000-plus people all in one place in the stands (at NASCAR races), you can see but coming and going in hotels, in campgrounds, I don’t know how you do it,” Gov. Carney said.

“This (the state fair) is open, most of the indoor stuff is closed so there’s a lot of spacing, not nearly as many people …”

While making remarks on stage before a gathering or around 100, the governor was interrupted by a loudspeaker message reminding of the mandates to wear face coverings in some locations and practice social distancing as well.

“This is an unusual Governor’s Day for sure and I feel a little odd with the mask talking to all of you,” Gov. Carney said to the audience.

“But for me it’s an example of what we have to do to keep people safe.”

The governor offered thoughts on the retirement of Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Austin Short after 28-year-plus of service.

“There are few public servants that I’ve met (who are) as dedicated, as selfless, as committed to agriculture, particularly forestry …” he said.

“There’s not a person more delightful to work with and that’s saying something in a state where we’re a state of neighbors and we get along and work together.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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