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Sunday, August 1, 2010

LAST DAY AT THE DELAWARE STATE FAIR...

Delaware State Fair ends run with smaller crowd
Riders aboard Alpine Bobs joined thousands at the final day of the Delaware State Fair today. (The News Journal/GARY EMEIGH)
By DAN SHORTRIDGE • The News Journal • July 31, 2010
The end of the state fair today meant the start of a new life for two Smyrna kids.That’s “kids” as in newborn goats, who came into the world around 2 p.m. today in stall138 in the fair’s goat barn.
They’re heading home today with proud owner Gabrielle Virdin, 13, who stood by showing off her new charges and explaining the birthing process to a group of amazed onlookers oohing and aahing over the tiny babies.
There also were some ewwws - at the sight of the nanny goat chewing on the afterbirth.“That’s natural for her to do that,” Gabrielle explained to one young boy. “There’s a lot of protein, too.”But despite the fascinated gathering in the goat barn, crowds generally were scarce on the final day of the fair.
By late afternoon, not even the prospect of a steady breeze and cool temperatures -- with a high in the mid-80s -- was enough to pull huge numbers of people through the gates, as dark, heavy clouds loomed overhead, threatening storms.The weather has been a persistent problem for this year’s fair, with fairgoers suffering through an intense heat wave on opening weekend, forcing organizers to start the carnival later than normal.
But fair officials still expect this year’s attendance to be overall higher than 2009, said Danny Aguilar, its assistant general manager.Exact attendance numbers won’t be available for some time as the gate numbers have to be audited, he said.“The hot weather affected our early-on numbers, but we’ve been showing … to be ahead of 2009,” Aguilar said.
If there were huge crowds this year, Dakota Lewis hadn’t seen them. The 17-year-old from South Carolina camped out in a vendor booth the entire week, hawking balloons and plastic ninja swords for his cousin‘s novelties business. The big-selling items, he said, have been “clacker balls” and inflatable football helmets.But there hasn’t been a booming trade, he said.“It’s been really slow,” Lewis said. “When it’s busy, every five minutes someone’s up here. It hasn’t been like that at all.”
Veteran fairgoers agreed the crowds were smaller this year than last.“I’m surprised it’s not that busy,” said Michelle Shivick, 39, of Newark. Raised in Camden, she’s been attending the fair off and on for the last three decades, but on Saturday afternoon, she was sharing a chocolate-and-vanilla-swirl ice cream cone with son Dalton, 2. “I though there would have been a lot more people here today.”

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