I’m looking forward to this year’s Delaware State Fair! Here’s a guest post by Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee.
July in Delaware means it is State Fair time.
The Fair means a lot of different things to different people, but there is no doubt that celebrating our agriculture is the major theme. After all, Delaware agriculture is based on 2,500 farmers and generates $1.2 billion in sales every year, which expands to $8 billion worth of economic activity in the state.
Our state ranks 9th nationwide in the percentage of land area devoted to cropland. Thirty-five percent of Delaware’s land mass is devoted to cropland, 42% of our land is in farms. When cropland (35%) is combined with forestlands (31%), 65% of Delaware is open space.
The livestock competitions, the 4-H and FFA youth exhibits and contests, the produce and crop-judging contests and the incredible display of farm equipment illustrate that Delaware agriculture is alive and well.
In the Department of Agriculture’s Commodity and Education Buildings, virtually all of Delaware’s agricultural commodities will be on display. The building will be full of farmers and producers to explain, demonstrate, and promote the farm products they depend upon to make a living.
All of this activity reflects the diversity of our agriculture. We also have a great new display that illustrates Delaware Agriculture’s 300-year history and celebrates its critically important role for our state.
The Fair, to me, and I am sure to hundreds of others, is about people and the memories of being with those great people over the years.
I’ve kissed a pig, cleaned the stalls and laughed so hard my ribs hurt. Most of my best fair memories revolve around my great friend and former colleague Dave Woodward and all the other University of Delaware Extension workers and Department of Ag riculture staff who have been dedicated to the fair and what it stands for. Of course, we were all there for the farmers and the youth, which is a great and continuing reason to be at the Fair.
I also must reveal my favorite Fair foods: The Grange chicken platters; the Farm Bureau cheeseburgers and milkshakes, and a long-gone lemonade stand sponsored by the Red Clay Lions Club. Just thinking of those treats, brings back a flood of memories of fun and fellowship with a wide array of friends at the fair.