Wade Dunning of Smyrna surprises girlfriend Jennifer Pierson of Townsend Monday in the Quillen Arena at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington. Ms. Pierson had just finished winning a blue ribbon while competing in the Junior Western Pleasure horse show. (Delaware State News/Jen Rini)
By Jen Rini
Delaware State News
July 22, 2013
DOVER — Some things are just meant to be.
Under the shade of the Quillen Arena on Monday morning, Wade Dunning got down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend of four years, Jennifer Pierson, on the same fairgrounds where they first met.
“I had no idea … I’ve always known he was the one I want to be with forever,” Ms. Pierson, of Townsend, said with her wide blue eyes sparkling and fresh blue ribbon in tow, as she had just finished competing in the Junior Western Pleasure horse show.
In 2007, 21-year-old Mr. Dunning was a Delaware State Fair regular — showing livestock and scoping the crowd for cute ladies.
“What I was looking for came out of the horse barn,” the Smyrna native recalled.
Cupid’s arrow had struck — 17-year-old Jennifer Pierson was a vision, and he couldn’t wait to come back to the fair the following year to find his blond, blue-eyed, Georgia-born beauty. But when fair time came, things didn’t go exactly as planned.
“I searched every horse stall on this fairgrounds and the only thing I found was that she didn’t come back that year,” he said, as the crowd continued to gather around the arena.
Time passed, and he was convinced she was the one that got away.
However, on a NASCAR weekend four years ago, he and his friends decided to go a local Dover bar, Bubba’s Rock Shack, when he received another jolt. Across the room, there she was — riding the mechanical bull.
“All of a sudden, she spotted me,” he said, laughing. “And it was like fishing. She was on the reel.”
And he was hooked.
Mr. Dunning, who now works in crops precision services in Maryland, said he had been planning the surprise proposal for months, never spilling the beans to his mother and sister.
“We found out when he came up with the ring in his pocket,” said Deanna Dunning, his sister.
After all the waiting for the couple, the moment was perfect.
“It’s like a fairy tale,” Ms. Pierson said.