HARRINGTON — After a year away, the Delaware State Grange is back at the Delaware State Fair serving up its signature chicken and ham platters.
Fairgoers are excited to see the return of what has been a fair staple for more than 60 years — a wingless chicken breast or leg quarter, made-from-scratch potato salad, tomato slices, pickles and an ear of corn.
The Grange opted out of last year’s fair due to the limited attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first fair Grange President Jim Correll missed in the last 59 years.
The Grange is open each day of the fair from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“What’s really gratifying is to hear people say, ‘We come every year,’” Mr. Correll said. “They’ve been waiting two years for that chicken dinner. We’ve already heard that a lot so far. That’s what makes us proud.”
Mr. Correll said selling food at the fair, at the Grange’s building near the M&T Bank Grandstand, is the Grange’s main source of funding. Most of the Grange’s money flows back into the community with scholarships to the University of Delaware and Delaware State University, plus donations to Future Farmers of America and 4-H organizations.
The process began on Tuesday when members of the Grange arrived to set up their trailers and campers to stay on the grounds for the entirety of the fair, which runs through Saturday, July 31. The potato salad has to be made a day in advance, so that started on Wednesday before the Grange opened its doors for the first time since 2019 when the fair kicked off on Thursday.
Most Grange members working at the fair have been together for decades, Mr. Correll said. Inside, they divvy up the responsibilities with the chicken cooking crew, the ham slicers, the potato salad crew, the tomato slicers, those who prep the pies and cakes, the cash register workers and the remainder who ensure the place stays tidy.
“You miss the fellowship we have,” Mr. Correll said. “Everybody knows their jobs and it’s a pretty efficient operation. It’s been this way since the 1960s.”
All of the Grange’s food is sourced from local vendors, with meat from Sudlersville Meat Locker in Sudlersville, Md. and produce from Walters Produce Market in Felton. All food is hormone-free and antibody-free, which Mr. Correll said is important to the Grange and its customers.
One couple who ate on Thursday told Mr. Correll they drove up from Texas, and plan their summer vacation around the Delaware State Fair for the Grange’s food.
“It’s good to see the people who have come before,” said former Grange President Chip Narvel, who has been a Grange member for more than 50 years.
“They enjoy coming here,” Mr. Narvel added. “Some of them come in two or three times while we’re here. I’m just excited to be here cooking food again. It’s fun. That’s why we’re here.”