Wicomico County Fair

History

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Wicomico Farm & Home Show

The Wicomico Farm and Home Show came to be in 1936.  Mildred and Harry Banks, Howard and Mary Humphreys, Ethel and Irving Guy, Charles Wright and other local farmers and businesses formed a group to compete and show off their achievements, such as baked goods, canned goods, woodworking projects, produce and of course, livestock.

The event started at the Eastern Shore Baseball League field, behind where the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center now stands. It has had many homes over time, one being at the old Armory where the Wicomico County Public Library is currently.  In 1942 when the United States became heavily involved in World War II there was no show due to the Army needing the Armory. Other locations have been the old auction block on South Division Street and the Pratt Phillips Canning House on Fitzwater St.  For many years the event was held at the old Civic Center on Glen Avenue until it burned down. The show was not put on again for 2 or 3 years until the Civic Center was rebuilt.  Once rebuilt, the show was held at the Civic Center until its relocation to Winterplace Park, where it is now held annually.

Today many of the same exhibits remain, as well as new ones: artwork, photography and handwork of all types.  Exhibiting at the Farm and Home Show has become a family tradition over the years with 4th and 5th generations entering their achievements.

After 78 years, the Wicomico Farm & Home Show began to look for a change that would make the event fun and educational for the community while promoting the agriculture industry in our region.

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Delmarva Chicken Festival
The Delmarva Chicken Festival made its final run in 2014. The event was sponsored annually by Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI), the regional association working for the continued well-being of the area’s poultry industry.

Throughout its history, the Delmarva Chicken Festival had rotated throughout Delmarva— from Dover to Salisbury, Federalsburg to Snow Hill — for 65 years. The first festival, held in Georgetown, was DPI’s first project.

In the festival’s 65 year history, there had been many additions and changes along the way.  The giant fry pan made its first appearance in 1951.  Chicken Capers were added in 1975 and a carnival was first part of the event in 1981.  A pageant to select a Little Miss and Miss Poultry Princess was eliminated in the 1980s and a chicken cooking contest was last held in conjunction with the festival in 1998.  Live entertainment has become a more important part of the festival, and an array of family events such as car shows, arts and crafts, home and trade show vendors, and more have joined the list of attractions.  A parade, an important part of the festival in its early years, is seldom held today due to the challenges of increased traffic and congestion; but the menu, once limited to only fried or barbecued chicken has expanded to offer many chicken dishes with a number of ethnic and all-American flavors.

In April 2014, DPI announced that summer’s event would be its last. “DPI is refocusing its mission and feels that in today’s world there may be more effective ways to promote the chicken industry and educate the general public about Delmarva’s No. 1 agricultural enterprise. This was a very difficult decision made with much consideration by the DPI Board of Directors,” said DPI President Keith Moore. “DPI recently reviewed its long-term strategic plan and feels that this change is needed to best meet the needs of its members.”

In August 2014, the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce (SACC) Board voted to explore continuing the Delmarva tradition under the SACC banner and was granted the naming rights. SACC felt confident that their experience organizing events and festivals reaching a large and diverse audience would assist them in continuing the legacy of the festival. Brainstorming began on how to continue the event.

 

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Creation of the Wicomico County Fair

It was in early 2015 when the Wicomico Farm and Home Show and the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce decided to join forces to create the Wicomico County Fair. With the Home Show looking to attract and educate a broader audience at their event and SACC holding the naming rights to the Delmarva Chicken Festival, there was not a more perfect pairing that would promote agriculture in Wicomico County and more specifically, the poultry industry.  By developing the partnership, the groups are able to continue long-standing traditions that have a combined 143 year history. “Whether it is as a food source or local driver for related industries, agriculture plays an important role in the life of every resident in Wicomico and the surrounding counties,” said Zach Evans, Wicomico Fair & Home Show Vice President. “This event will help us to educate the youth and future generations in this area about agriculture and also show the pride associated with farming, our county and our city.”

Wicomico County Fair events will include livestock exhibits, the 5 ft. fry pan, educational poultry exhibits, antique tractor pulls and much more! There will be something for everyone with live entertainment, food, free kids activities and a car show just to name a few. The 2015 event will be held at Winterplace Park in Salisbury during August 19-21st. Admission and parking are free.