License plate auction ushers in state fair’s centennial year

HARRINGTON — Uniquely Delawarean, the Delaware State Fair held an auction for low-digit centennial-themed license plates over the weekend, bringing in more than $100,000, according to Danny Aguilar, assistant general manager and director of marketing.

Melding the two together was a perfect match for the Murphy and Chorman families, bidder number 6, who went home Saturday afternoon with the lowest digit Delaware State Fair Centennial license plate available to the public for the price of $4,000.

They battled valiantly with another eager bidder before laying claim to their newest pride and joy — plate 6.

“My grandfather, Charles Murphy, Jr., had (Delaware license plate) number six. My great-grandfather, Charles Murphy, Sr., donated his farm to start the state fair and was the first president,” Molly Chorman said. “We love the fair; we’re here a lot. It’s a family legacy.”

Ms. Chorman’s grandfather died in 2007 at the age of 87 and left his original license plate “6” to his children. They were unsure of how to evenly split the heirloom without selling it at auction. It was auctioned off in February 2008 to the highest bidder, Frank Vassallo, for $675,000.

Jeff Chorman put in the bids during Saturday’s centennial event for the family as their daughters and Mrs. Chorman’s parents watched.

“To walk in to the state fair and get bidder number six, it was as if it was meant to be,” Mr. Chorman said.

Centennial license plates numbered 1 through 5 were reserved for active and past presidents of the fair, Mr. Aguilar said.

“Right now, we have only three presidents still with us. Our current active president is Ron Draper. We also have William J. DiMondi as a past president who will take number two and Leroy Betts as another past president who will take number three. Four and five will remain vacant for now. When Mr. Draper is no longer the active president, he will pass number one to the next president, and so on,” Mr. Aguilar said.

The few license plates that were not bid on during Saturday’s event run by Wilson’s Auction will be kept by the Delaware State Fair for a future decision.

Funds raised from the event will be used toward operating the fair, parking needs, bandstand events, tents, livestock feed and other expenses.

Carroll Hinson of Felton displays his number 10 Delaware State Fair license plate that he won with a bid of $3,300 on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Headed into its 100th year, Mr. Aguilar said the fair will keep the traditions alive while celebrating its successes of the past.

“In March, we will release our centennial coffee-table book and a 50-minute video storybook with over 47 individuals telling of their interactions with the fair,” he explained. “We really wanted to celebrate where we’ve been with great stories.”

The video is broken up into seven sections detailing the fair’s history, entertainment, livestock, exhibits, contests, 4-H and FFA connections, carnival, traditions like camping and shopping, and, of course, the people that make the fair a success each year.

“We have more than 40,000 volunteer hours each year during the fair,” he added. “They have worked hard to make the fair a 100-year success.”

The video will be screened at the Delaware Public Archives where there will also be an exhibit of Delaware State Fair memorabilia. He hopes the celebrations continue into fair week with “probably one of the largest grandstand events since 2009 and record-breaking attendance.”


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