HARRINGTON — Gov. John Carney returned to the Delaware State Fair for Governor’s Day, but traditional activities like watermelon seed spitting and pig kissing will have to wait another year.
The governor, along with Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, spent the day at the fair, visiting exhibits, touring livestock barns and talking with agriculture and livestock farmers.
“Something that we’ve not been able to do for the last year and a half is really talk to the folks from our rural communities, the farmers and all the people in the industry, and our state fair is the place to do it.” Gov. Carney said. “We need to learn and know firsthand what’s going on and what challenges they face.”
He said many farmers experienced supply and labor shortages during the pandemic, but the overall consensus is that Delaware farmers are doing great now.
Lt. Gov. Hall-Long said Delaware farmers are an important part of the community and the state wants to support and connect with them as they recover from the pandemic.
“Food connects us and during COVID we’ve had a lot of insecurity and a lot of persons who’ve been suffering in isolation, anxiety, depression and even, unfortunately, in suicide,” Lt. Hall-Long said.
Izabela Marasco is the 2019 Delaware Peach Queen, one of several in her family. She and other Delaware queens joined Gov. Carney as he toured exhibits and animal barns around the fairgrounds and presented awards to the Dover Building exhibitors along with Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control awards.
She said she was there to help bring attention to Delaware agriculture and educate people who don’t have connections to fresh and sustainable foods.
“Not many people really understand [agriculture] or know what it’s about if they aren’t immersed in it,” Ms. Marasco said. “If you go into some cities, people just know their food comes from the store. They don’t know where it comes from or where it’s grown.”
Gov. Carney helped to present several awards from DNREC. New Castle County resident Richard Morris of the Belvedere Fire Company won DNREC Volunteer of the Year. He drives “the beast,” DNREC’s HAZMAT 30 vehicle, and drove to more than 50 hazardous incident calls in 2019.
Rowan Smith, 9; Maggie Weaver, 11; and Julia Reel, 18, won awards for DNREC Young Environmentalists of the Year.
DNREC’s Youth Environmentalist Program recognizes Delaware students whose actions have helped protect, restore or enhance our natural resources by initiating innovative projects, practicing environmental stewardship, increasing public awareness or demonstrating environmental ethics.
Youth Fishing Tournament winner Kane Messina won with a 21-inch bass in June and was recognized at the ceremony, although he was not in attendance.
Later in the day, Gov. Carney also signed Senate Bill 106 at the fairgrounds, which makes students who attend homeschool eligible for the same services for children with disabilities as students who attend private schools.
“One of the great things about our little state is that we consider all our folks neighbors,” Gov. Carney said.
“So much of the legislation that goes before the general assembly … really starts from the people that each of us represent. It’s really special that constituents can approach their elected officials to really get things done.”