To the editor:
Wow! We just finished one of the best all-time fairs in Delaware history. We had great crowds each day of the fair as the weather was magnificent for the second year in a row. We had a phenomenal Junior Fair sale. By all indications, the vendors on the fairgrounds had a good week and want to come back for more. Not only were there five really good days of harness racing, there was arguably the greatest harness race of all time. The final day of the fair saw a wall-to-wall crowd at the Demolition Derby, a packed midway for the rides, a huge tent full of people for the McGuffey Lane concert and a fantastic fireworks to put a close on the week.
And then I pick up Monday’s Gazette and read Mariann Main’s column and I have to wonder — did we go to the same fair? Mariann, there are some items in your column that just simply are not true. While you lament over not getting a pork tenderloin sandwich, I look at the week of the fair in a completely different way.
You asked where the banners were. There were Brown Jug flags on light poles all over downtown Delaware as well as hanging on porches through the entire city. You called it a monumental 70th anniversary and again lamented that nobody noticed. Seventy is really no more significant that 69 or 71. In my experience, the really significant anniversaries are 25, 50, 75, 100 and so on. You talked about little or no traffic jams during the week. I guess you weren’t around much on Sunday when we had to shut down two gates on Pennsylvania Avenue because there were no parking spaces left in the west parking lots. I guess you weren’t around numerous times during the week when traffic was backed up on U.S. 23 all the way back to Mingo Park.
Mariann, you asked if your memory is faulty regarding past attendance figures. Yes, it is very faulty. The Jug has never had a crowd of 80,000 people — not even close to that figure. We drew just over 80,000 people for all five days of racing in 1994, the all-time record. We couldn’t park the cars necessary for 80,000 people. Maybe all those pork sandwiches have scrambled some numbers in your memory.
In fact, let’s discuss those pork sandwiches that you lament and lament and lament. Some pepperoni vendor told you the pork sandwich guy couldn’t make a go of it because of the high rent charged to vendors. Of course, that pepperoni guy knows everything there is to know about the fair and its finances. Did he also tell you that the rent for outside vendors has not been raised in five years? Probably not.
As you lament and lament and lament about the fair attendance, perhaps you would find it interesting to know that a quick review of our reserved seat ticket book shows that people from 27 states, plus Ohio, purchased tickets to the races, as well as visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and four provinces from Canada. In your extensive research, did you call local hotels to see if there were any empty rooms? There weren’t. Those folks were eating somewhere. Not sure how you were able to check all of the restaurants locally on a daily basis to see how business was going.
You made some random thoughts regarding changes you would like to see. Regarding the All Horse Parade being moved to the first day of the fair, let me say this — NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. The first horse parade took place on the first day of the fair and created all kinds of traffic and parking problems. That first parade was nowhere close in size to the 2015 version. This year’s parade required the entire west portion of the fairgrounds from Euclid Avenue to the armory to stage. You should visit the fairgrounds on parade day to see the incredible staging process it takes for the event. (You) Probably won’t find a pork sandwich on that day though.
About the only thing in your column that I am able to agree with you is the need to improve fairgrounds facilities that have deteriorated with age. Apparently you don’t realize the fair will have an hotel/motel bed tax issue on the ballot in March to help us repair and replace our aging infrastructure and buildings. We ask for your support.
Mariann, you and I didn’t attend the same fair, it is quite obvious. While you lament, I will look back at the 2015 fair with great memories and much satisfaction. Yes, there are problems with the facilities but we are attacking those issues with a plan, a positive outlook and a passion for an event that we all love and cherish. It will take a great deal of money, time and much effort to get it accomplished, but it will get done.
By the way, Martin Concessions had a pork tenderloin sandwich at this year’s fair. I had one. It was great. Sorry the pepperoni guy didn’t know about it.
Delaware County Fair