Heat’s on: State fair sizzling on first day

HARRINGTON — As the temperature reached 95 degrees by mid-afternoon, a long-term weather forecast was confirmed.

Since last winter’s warm stretch, Gabrielle Sacks wondered about the upcoming summer heat during the Delaware State Fair.

“Every year here it gets hotter and hotter,” the Milford resident said just a couple hours after the fairgrounds official opening.

“When it gets to 80 degrees or whatever it was during the winter I thought it would be a lot worse here this year.”

Waving a fan in front of her face for a slight artificial breeze, Ms. Sacks and her water bottle chugging brother Matthew walked briskly toward the comforts of air conditioned Exhibit Hall.

Nathaniel ‘Shaggy’ Gardner, 12, of Harrington cools off under a cool mist machine at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“The main thing is to stay hydrated and keep taking breaks,” Mr. Sacks said. “The fair is a lot of fun unless you collapse from the heat. If you drink water and stay cool inside, you’ll be fine.”

The blistering conditions were official, not imaginary — the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory until 7 p.m., and an air quality alert until at least noon today. Similar temps, air and humidity are expected to follow through the weekend to some degree.

Lexi Lorntzen, 1, reluctantly reaches to pet a dinosaur during the prehistoric Dinosaur Adventures at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday.

Jimmy Vanderwende sat inside his family’s ice cream stand trying to stay cool with only partial success. A smattering of walk-up customers were attracted to the billing “Vanderwende’s Farm Fresh Ice Cream” but the foot traffic was generally non-existent.

“When it’s this hot people usually don’t think about stopping for an ice cream and we can’t blame them for that,” he said. “We can only hope that it will cool down.”

Now in their fourth year selling cold treats to fair goers, the family expected business to pick up after sunset and the conclusion of upcoming concert events.

Teenagers ride the Alpine Bobs on the Midway at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday.

Henry Cabelus with X Pogo completes a flip at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday.

“Our clientele has been very supportive and we get a lot of return customers,” Donna Vanderwende said.

Long-time farmer Mr. Vanderwende knew “we have no control over the weather. The only way we can control it somewhat is through irrigation and that takes water.”

Perhaps the best sales pitch came outside Passionista’s Fashion Truck – “We have AC. Watch your step.”

During his 2 p.m. tricks and jokes show at the Plaza, Seattle, Washington native Matt Baker remarked, “Phew, it’s so hot. Seattle doesn’t get like this at all.”

Heather Marko of Saratoga, New York had a similar reaction, describing the day as “crazy hot. It’s so steamy right now. I’m glad they sell Delaware ice tea here.”

Elizabeth Peterson, 12, of Bridgeville hugs a Romney Sheep at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday.

With all due respect to her Passionista merchandise, Jenna Baffone’s best selling point was a sign in front of her fashion truck that read “We have AC. Watch your step.”

Making her state fair debut as a vendor, Ms. Baffone of Newark said she expected to sell “lots” of hats and tank tops during her 10-day stay.

“There’s not a lot of walkup right now and that probably has a lot to do with how hot it is,” she said, noting that she expected more when the sun went down and big name entertainment acts arrived.

“I did a little research and believe there will be plenty of interest later,” she said.

Pledging to “make it through it” was Scott Butz of Solar City. He did a “flap and wrap” of a cooling tool around his neck and seemed to be fine.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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