The tractor-driven shuttles transport the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Delaware State Fair to and from their vehicles.
(Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)
By Chris Flood-Delaware State News
July 23, 2013
HARRINGTON — Bill Jester estimates that between 300,000 and 350,000 people will visit the Delaware State Fair in the 10 days that it’s open.
It’s his job, along with nearly 100 other volunteers, to make sure all those people find a parking spot quickly and easily and then have a shuttle waiting for them if they need one.
Mr. Jester, a Burrsville Ruritan Club member, is head of fair parking. It’s his responsibility to coordinate a handful of local nonprofits, which are using the fair as a fundraising event, into one cohesive unit.
Mr. Jester said preparation for the shuttle service begins early in the year with maintenance checks and tune-ups for all the equipment. He said a plan of attack for how the different groups will coordinate is developed.
The shuttles run from noon to midnight, but the day begins much earlier for the volunteers who have to arrive in time for safety checks and to address any issues from the day before.
The parking lot is a little more than eight-tenths of a mile long, from the south side of the lot along Tower Hill Road to the main gate of the fairgrounds, and a tenth of a mile wide. That may not necessarily sound like much of a challenge until it’s 95 degrees with 100 percent humidity and you’re the person parking all the way at the end in the so-called rabbit lot.
In the main parking lot, five shuttles run daily. Each one can carry up to 50 people at a time.
“Unless it’s raining, then people want to pile in and sit on each other’s laps,” said George Weiss, another Burrsville Ruritan Club member who helps with the parking.
He was kidding (for safety reasons), but when the sky opens up over the fair, nobody wants to make the trek from the back of the lot to the main gate.