State Fair ends with a bang

The Felton Hardware Store car gets hit hard during the demolition derby at the Delaware State Fair on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

HARRINGTON — The 99th annual Delaware State Fair wasn’t a place that Joseph Smith expected to be this past week.

However, he said he wouldn’t trade his 10 days spent at the Delaware State Fairgrounds for anything after he kept guard at the gate at the entrance to The Roost Beer and Wine Garden throughout the fair.

“This is my first year at the Delaware State Fair,” said Mr. Smith, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “I’m enlisted in the military, so I was supposed to go to boot camp this July, but I actually dislocated my shoulder and I wanted to get a part-time job.

“My parents come down here, so they asked me to come down and stay the week and I’ve been working here at the fair. I’ve absolutely loved it.”

The excitement for Mr. Smith and all the fairgoers and participants came to a bittersweet end after the final car was left rolling at the end of the demolition derby at the M&T Bank Grandstand on Saturday night.

Suddenly, all the bright lights of the midway were turned off, the music was turned down, and thousands of people headed for the exits one final time this year.

Mr. Smith said he got to experience most everything the fair had to offer, from all the tasty – and many unhealthy – treats, to the animals, but most of all, the people.

Drivers get instructions before the demolition derby at the Delaware State Fair on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“I’ve been out here all week,” he said. “It’s been pretty hot, but it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of rain but, overall, it’s been pretty good.

“It’s going to end with a bang with the demolition derby and fireworks.”

William Phipps, of Centerville, comes to the state fair every year to show off his animals.

He laughed and said he was ready to finally go home while sitting in the hot barn on Saturday.

“I’ve been out here all week showing my sheep,” Mr. Phipps said. “I’m ready to go home. It’s been a long week.

“I like coming to the fair and introducing people that don’t know anything about animals to the animals. That’s what this week is all about for me.”

For Amanda Scarborough, who is about to start her fifth-grade year at Newport’s Richey Elementary in the Red Clay School District, the fair won’t come to an end until this morning, when she loads up her sheep after what she called “a fun week of competition.”

“Technically this is my second-to-last day,” she said. “But I’m sad that it’s coming to an end.

“My favorite part of the fair was the pretty animal contest. I dressed my sheep up like Elvis (Presley) and I was Priscilla and it was really fun.”

A car is carried off with a fork lift during the demolition derby at the Delaware State Fair on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

While there were no national headliners on Saturday’s schedule, there was still plenty of fun to be had on the final day of the fair.

Amidst all the regular daily attractions, competitors took part in horseshoe pitching contests, cornhole, the Delaware Electric Co-Op Lineman’s Pole Rodeo, the 4-H awards celebration, a marching band showcase and, of course, the event-ending fender-crunching demolition derby.

“It is bittersweet, but just like all other good things, it has to come to an end eventually,” said Janet Thompson, of Magnolia, who was enjoying the rides on the midway with her family on the fair’s final day.

State police a state fair staple

The Delaware State Police have provided site security to the visitors of the Delaware State Fair as far back as 1937.

On Saturday, several dozen state troopers completed another successful 10 days of work and interaction with the fairgoers at the annual extravaganza at the Delaware State Fairgrounds.

Sammie Pritchett of Townsend checks out the competition before Mighty Minis Power Wheels competition at the Delaware State Fair on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The state police’s function at the fair is multifaceted.

Troopers from across the state come together from different specialized units to serve the fair through a variety of approaches, including the deployment of police K-9’s for physical security, the utilization of the State Police Mounted Unit to provide enhanced patrol coverage of the fairgrounds, the use of a state of the art Command Post operation to enhance communications and by using State Police Explorers to assist lost children.

Since the 1990’s, the Delaware State Police have sponsored high school students as Explorers throughout the state.

Patrick Gaskin, who is now a state trooper, gained interest in pursuing his current career as an Explorer, working events such as the state fair.

“I have gained many rewarding experiences from the Explorers program over my seven years in the program,” Trooper Gaskin said. “I was able to determine a career path at a young age that allowed me to pinpoint my focus in my studies. The explorers also allowed me to develop personally and professionally by participating in numerous community service events.

The Felton Hardware Store car gets in the back during the demolition derby at the Delaware State Fair on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“One of the most important things that I will never forget is the support from the advisors and mentors. The advisors are current Delaware State Troopers, who have a passion for their career and want to pass that on to the younger generations to follow in their footsteps.”

Cpl. Tyler Wright said the Explorers program can be a rewarding one for any high schooler that is interested.

“With eight posts throughout the state, one at each DSP Troop, the Explorers participate in a variety of community events and service initiatives,” he said. “Some of the major events include their participation in the Delaware State Fair where they are tasked with assisting missing children being reunited with their parents, and the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge where they assist with general public safety.

“The program has proved to be a success with various participants in the areas of leadership and communication, and several have gone on to be Cadets, and eventually Troopers.”

Cpl. Wright said the Explorers are free to join and they would love to meet potential new members with an introductory meeting.

Contact Cpl. Wright at 302-672-5478 or by email Tyler.Wright@state.de.us or click on the following link: http://dsp.delaware.gov/explorers.shtml

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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