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10 Things We Love About the 2016 Delaware State Fair

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(The Delaware State Fair kicks off July 20 with a special opening night concert by country singer Jake Owen. This year’s fair, with a theme of “A Slice of Summer Fun,” runs through July 30. Gate admission for adults (age 13 and up) is $9, while kids (ages 6–12) get in for $4. For more information, visit www.delawarestatefair.com.)

10. GOING FOR THE WRECKORD 

(Friday, July 22)

Does anybody remember the Malachi Crunch from the TV show “Happy Days”? Well, plenty of crunching will be taking place at the Grandstand when Demolition Derby drivers compete to be the last car rolling. It just wouldn’t be the state fair without the demolition derby. Say hi to Pinky Tuscadero, if you see her.

9. DERANGED DUMMIES

(Saturday, July 23)

Comedian Jeff Dunham and his pack of unpolitically correct characters take to the grandstand as part of their “Perfectly Unbalanced” tour. If you haven’t caught Dunham’s act—his specials are frequently aired on Comedy Central—you’re in for a treat. With well-known characters like Walter the grumpy retiree, Achmed the dead terrorist and Jose Jalepeño, the irreverent Dunham is sure to offend, and you will feel guilty that you laughed. But not that guilty.

8. DAY DRINKING AND NIGHT SINGING 

(Sunday, July 24)

We admit we may have a bit of a “Girl Crush” on a certain blonde member of Little Big Town, but don’t tell anyone. The Grammy-winning group will perform its hits, as well as songs from its sixth album, “Pain Killer” at the Grandstand. Kristian Bush of Sugarland, who released his first solo album last year, will join the group.

7. ‘BAMA JAMMA 

Monday, July 25

If you’re gonna play in Harrington, you’ve gotta have a fiddle in the band. Well, that’s not quite how it goes, but you get the idea. Country Music Hall of Fame act Alabama hits the Grandstand stage armed with 43 No. 1 singles and more than 73 million albums sold. You’ll never see these boys in a more intimate setting. Now, play me some mountain music…

6. STUMPING

It’s an election year and you know what that means: Local politicians will hit the fairgrounds looking to curry favor with voters. Here’s your chance to meet them up close and personal. You can also give them a piece of your mind over a chicken platter at the Delaware Grange’s screened-in dining area.

5. HAVING A COW

Although some folks hit the fair for the Midway rides and games, and others are drawn by corn dogs, funnel cakes and lemonade—fair fare, if you will—we go for the animals. Who wouldn’t want to cuddle a fuzzy, yellow chick, or pet a steer, sheep or goat? The FFA Agriculture Center is a one-stop-shop petting zoo. In our opinion, the barn area is the place to be. You can milk a cow or pet a pig. And if you’re lucky, you might get to see a newborn calf at the fair’s birthing center.

4. THE TRACTOR FACTOR

Tractors of all shapes and sizes can be seen throughout the fairgrounds, including in the nightly parade. There’s also an antique tractor pull, an antique machinery showcase, the youth pedal tractor pull, a tractor-driving contest and a 4-H lawn tractor driving event. Remember: Nothing runs like a Deere.

3. BEER APLENTY

The Roost Beer and Wine Garden is back with live music and cold beverages enjoyed from lightning bug mason jars. New this year, food will be available for purchase. Sorry kids, you must be at least 21 for this one. On the fair’s final day (July 30), a Craft Beer Festival features Blues Traveler and local group Lower Case Blues at the Grandstand. A Craft Beer Ticket ($35) gets you into the concert and includes five beer tickets and a souvenir cup.

2. THOROUGHLY THOROGOOD 

(Friday, July 29)

Delaware native George Thorogood and his Destroyers take the Grandstand stage along with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. It always feels right when George comes home.

1. YOUTH POWER

The local children of 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America are the heart of the state fair. They compete in contests ranging from talent shows to poultry and livestock judging. Spend a few minutes chatting with these awesome kids and it will open your eyes to a whole new world.