Heat is on at the state fair

4H/FFA livestock judging competition in the Kent Building.

4H/FFA livestock judging competition is held in the Kent Building on Monday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran).

HARRINGTON — Although there are plenty of distractions at the Delaware State Fair, the biggest distraction of all on Monday was the heat.

It hit a steamy 97 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“We come every year on Monday because it’s Senior’s Day and it’s always hot, but I don’t remember it ever being this hot before,” said Susan Shertok, director of Bear’s C & D Senior Center.

She and a group of friends ate ice cream under an umbrella during  a break from the afternoon sun.

“We brought a group of 15 people today and some went to the casino and most of us love to see the 4-H arts and crafts, so at least we’ll be in air conditioning for part of the day,” she said.

The Salvation Army Seniors of Salisbury (Maryland) were also visiting for Senior’s Day and weren’t planning on such hot weather.

“We haven’t been to the fair for a long time and we were expecting it to be hot, but not like this,” Frank Adams said.

He and his wife, Dottie, like the C & D Seniors, took advantage of the available air conditioning by exploring areas like the Marketplace where they were able to try cooking samples and check out all the vendors.

The temporary walls of the Marketplace tent were secured to the ground with lines of sand bags to ensure as little cool air escaped as possible.

“It was nice and cool, but we had to come back out because we wanted to try all the fair food for lunch,” Mr. Adams said. “And I think we’re also planning on seeing all the animals too, so at least we’ll be in the shade.”

Despite the uncomfortable temperatures, there were a few perks for vendors and attendees alike.

“I think it’s going to be a good day for business,” said McKenna Longo, who was serving ice-cold treats from the Frozen Farmer food truck. “It’s so hot, everyone’s going to need something cold sooner or later.”

“We knew it was going to be this hot but decided to come today because we knew it would be less crowded,” said Mike Murray of Magnolia.

Mr. Murray works as a medic so he wasn’t too concerned about bringing his three kids between 3 and 9 years old because he knows how to handle the heat.

“Most of the time when people have medical problems relating to the heat, it comes down to not drinking enough water and pushing themselves too hard,” he said. “So we’re keeping hydrated and taking a break in the shade every 15 or 20 minutes and we’ll be fine.”

Shade and water weren’t only key to keeping fair visitors safe, they were necessary for all the livestock on the fairgrounds too.

“It’s not going to be a big problem for us because it’s already a pretty good set up,” said Robina Phipps of the Kent Building. “It’s shaded, there’s fans and since the sides are open, the animals are getting good air circulation.”

Ms. Phipps is a co-owner of Centre Del Farm and had eight sheep to show.

“Our breed of sheep don’t have thick wool — they shed like a dog would, so we don’t need to worry about shearing them,” she said. “Our main concern is keeping them hydrated. We’ll be refilling their water at least four times today.”

Unlike sheep, drinking water isn’t enough for pigs which don’t have pores and can’t sweat to cool off.

“It’s always hot at the fair and we regularly spray them down with the hose to keep them cool,” said Mindy Cobb of Single Acre Farm of her four pigs. “But on a day this hot, we’re spraying them down almost constantly.”

Despite people and animals struggling in the heat, for an elite few the heat wasn’t so bad.

“I’m just visiting from the Houston suburbs so this isn’t too bad. In my opinion it’s a pretty nice day out,” said Katie, Texas, resident Gary Kramethauer.

Mr. Kramethauer and his son, a Millsboro resident of two years, said in Texas, they regularly went to rodeos and livestock shows in temperatures hotter than Monday’s.

“We’re used to walking around in the heat at fairs and festivals a lot bigger than this one, but this is more laid back, so it’s actually a pretty relaxing day.”

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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