Pete’s marks its last year at the fair

It takes a host of visionaries to create an event as successful as the Delaware State Fair. Pete Pizzadili is one of those icons to the foodies in the crowd.

The line gets long quickly at the familiar stand that now features fair favorites like pizza, subs, cheesesteaks, hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries.

He has worked the fair every year since 1961 when he braved his first as an entrepreneur at 20 years old. Now at 78, Mr. Pizzadili is ready to sell his business and cook his last Delaware State Fair hamburger.

“I was the one who brought subs to the fair. I brought pizza to the fair,” he said. “Do you want to buy it? It’s a money maker!”

He started the business as a way to pay off his tuition at Wesley College and continued it with a love of the fair and its visitors in mind.

An Italian at heart, Mr. Pizzadili traveled to Delaware from Tuscany, Italy just a few years before he opened his fair business. He later worked for the family business, Pizzadili’s Delicatessen in Dover. The family also founded Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery in Felton.

His hidden gem at the Delaware State Fair stays busy during the 10-day event and their menu has continued to grow throughout the years to include more items tailored to this special audience.
“I’ve really enjoyed it but, you know, I’m getting older. It’s time to step back,” he said.

This will be the last year at the fair for Pete’s under the direction of owner Pete Pizzadili, who is retiring and plans to sell the business.

Regulars found in the line Wednesday night before ventriloquist Darci Lynne took the main stage at the grandstand were disappointed to see Pete go, but were grateful for his service.

“We’ve been coming to the fair since there were dirt roads,” Beverly Geoffon of Whyoga in Milford said. “I don’t eat meat, so pizza is my safe go-to at the fair. Pete’s and Sonny’s fries keep me going. I’m sorry to see him go. I guess I’ll just have to explore my options next year.”

Georgetown resident Kenny Walton is a regular to the fair and Pete’s, also.
“We have animals at the fair and my son has a camper here now. We spend most of our time at Pete’s or Sonny’s. It’s sad to hear he’s leaving, but it happens. Prices go up and they have to make money. It’s good eating here at Pete’s. It’s like home,” he said.

Mr. Pizzadili didn’t have a lot to say about his upcoming retirement from the fair food industry, but added that he enjoyed seeing friends every year like longtime employee Bill Falasco.

“It’s been busy here all night. That line has been long for two hours,” he said around 8 p.m. Wednesday night while fielding orders via phone for avid customers.

Anyone interested in purchasing the business can contact Mr. Pizzadili at 302-270-2937.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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