It’s a Memorial Day weekend of comedy and commemoration at Harrington Raceway and Casino as the facility stages its first Red, White and Blue Salute To Our Troops Festival and the rescheduled performance from funnyman Jeff Foxworthy.
The festival, from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, is a family weekend of free attractions in honor of the men and women of the armed forces and the USO.
Activities and exhibits include a full-scale Military Village, local fire company and state police displays, a Kids Zone, several food, merchandise and craft vendors and live entertainment.
There will be more than 20 military displays with items such as helicopters, Dover Air Force Base Fire Co. equipment, Coast Guard and National Guard displays, anti-terrorism vehicles and equipment, rescue units and more.
Entertainment will include a moon bounce, bands, live remote from Cool 101.3 FM and Eagle 97.7 FM radio, a beer garden and free table games lessons for those 21 and older.
Sunday will see the inaugural Race for the Red, White and Blue Salute to the Troops and the USO harness event in the grandstand. Post time is 5:30 p.m.
Saturday’s events also will include giveaways for Mr. Foxworthy’s show in the M&T Grandstand that night at 7:30.
The legendary “redneck” comedian is making good on a concert that was washed out by the effects of Hurricane Irene on Aug. 26. Fortunately, the forecast for Saturday night looks pretty good.
Mr. Foxworthy has starred in his own sitcom, hosted a game show and a nationally syndicated radio program, authored more than 25 books and even has his own line of calendars, greeting cards and hot sauces.
But when you get right down to it, he’s still a stand-up comedian at heart.
“I’m the type of guy who has to be doing something all the time. And I feel blessed that I’m never bored,” he said in a Best Bets interview prior to his planned August appearance.
“But if someone told me I had to pick only one thing to do, it would have to be stand-up.”
He has been telling his Southern fried jokes since 1984 when, at the urging of his co-workers at IBM where he was working in computer maintenance, he entered and won the Great Southeastern Laugh-off at Atlanta’s Punchline comedy club.
He hasn’t looked back since, selling out arenas all over the country as a solo act and on the wildly successful Blue Collar Comedy Tour. He is also the biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time.
“Of all the things I’ve done in this business, that’s the thing I’m proudest of,” Mr. Foxworthy said of his album sales.
“People will ask me, ‘Do you think that makes you the funniest comedian ever?” and I’ll say, ‘No, but it does mean I’ve been able to reach a real wide audience and that you didn’t have to turn it down because Grandma or Granddad came into the room.’”
He partly attributes his cross-generational success to the cleanliness of his act. He says that’s always been very purposeful.
“I think a lot of people get into comedy as a stepping stone for TV or movies. But I didn’t care if I ever did TV or movies. I just wanted to be a comedian. I think it forces you to find more creative ways to talk about a subject too. It makes you work harder,” said Mr. Foxworthy, who takes pride in the fact that he’s performed in all 50 states.
“I used to pick the brains of Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, who also work clean. And Jay always used to say, ‘If you work clean, you’ll always work.’
“And my big goal was to get on with Johnny Carson and I knew if I was a dirty comic, I would never have a shot. It’s not like it is today with 700 different channels and Comedy Central. Johnny was like Caesar. If he liked you, there wasn’t anything you couldn’t do after that.”
He finally got his break on “The Tonight Show” in 1990.
“Johnny called me over to the couch after my set and I sat there and made him laugh. I’ll always remember that as long as I live.”
His “You might be a redneck jokes” have spurred a cottage industry of their own with books, calendars, T-shirts and more.
“I remember years ago someone told me that I had taken what was once an insult and turned it into a badge of honor,” he said.
“Every year we do these Page-A-Day calendars with a different redneck joke each day. And every year, I think ‘How in the world am I going to come up with 365 more of these?’ But sure enough, I do. I carry notecards around everywhere and jot stuff down. They have really become this bottomless pit. I figure if you’re not guilty of some of them, your relatives probably are.”
Look for Mr. Foxworthy this summer hosting “The Great American Bible Challenge” on GSN.
Tickets for Saturday night’s show are still available from $26-$76. They may be reserved by visiting the website, calling 1-800-514-3849 or by visiting the Casino Gift Shop.