Summertime means county fairs with the requisite rides, games of chance, fried foods, celebrity performances, and family and friends get-togethers. When it comes to country fairs, the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is consistently among the top in the nation. Like everything in America’s Finest City, it’s just a cut above the rest. The creative team behind each year’s extravaganza makes sure that it’s more than a traditional fair; it’s a one-of-a-kind magical experience.
History of the Del Mar Fair
The San Diego County fair has deep roots dating back to 1880, when a group of locals first organized it as an agricultural fair. The purpose was to bring the county’s famers together to share ideas and provide an opportunity for their best efforts to be recognized. Competitions for the best pie, citrus fruit, and fastest horse, among others, were held each year.
With the success of its first year, the fair was held annually every year thereafter, changing location within the county until 1936 when it finally called Del Mar home and has remained there ever since. The Del Mar Fair has remained an integral part of the San Diego community (with the exception of closing down during World War II) since its origin.
Del Mar Fairgrounds and Its Many Themes
San Diego County Fair (By Pattymooney - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14858526)
One of the most special aspects of the Del Mar Fair is that it changes themes. Each year the creative team chooses something different and completely transforms the fairgrounds to reflect it in every way. In 1986, when the fair was still in the early years of developing themes, It’s a good feeling! was the theme, and Gus the Goose mascot was the draw. Themes became increasingly sophisticated over time, and a decade later Far Out, Furry, & Family Fun was the 1996 theme. It was a celebration of rare and unusual plants, livestock, and animals, and focused on Columbus’s voyages and the people of the Old and New Worlds.
By 2006, the theme was even better, with Ride This Tide to Fun, a collaboration with the famed environmental artist (Robert) Wyland. The focus was on San Diego’s most precious resource, water. Wyland even completed a giant mural on a new building that was completed just days before the fair opened that year. The 65-foot-high by 200-foot-long painting depicts California Gray Whales, and it still remains today. Visitors can see the beautiful mural all the way from Interstate 5, a major fairgrounds access point.
The year of 2016 has a classic theme, Mad about the Fair. The fairgrounds are being turned into a larger than life tea party showcasing Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, with cosplay, great literature, steampunk, and whacky machinery influences. You’ll enjoy everything there is to know and love about the fair, plus funky landscapes, crazy rides, mind-blowing food, riveting performances, and, of course, visitors from Wonderland in the flesh. Start your summer off full of adventure and imagination at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar.
What You Can Always Expect at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
San Diego County Fair 1982 (By A. T. Service - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15972042)
· Animals on display, animal shows, livestock auctions, and farm equipment. Events like the Junior Livestock Auction happen each year with local youngsters auctioning off animals they hand-raised over the year. You’ll also see locals showcasing their livestock for blue ribbons, and you’ll get the opportunity to interact with more than 20 different horse breeds, among other animal- related exhibits.
· Car shows are featured every day on the racetrack; from the opening until 3 p.m. San Diego car clubs feature their woodies, muscle cars, and hotrods.
· The newly added Fiesta Village is Latin-themed fun for the whole family, showcasing dancing, musical performances, crafts, food, and artisan crafters from Mexico and Central America.
· The competitive exhibits where contestants earn blue ribbons and cold hard cash for their creative efforts in categories such as fine art, homebrew, homemade wine, design in wood, and jewelry, among others.
· Fair Food. This fair is famous for deep frying everything from a stick of butter to frog legs, and each year there are new treats added to the list.
· Rides and games, of course! Fun Zone has more than 40 exhilarating rides, skill-testing games, and thrill attractions like bungee and sling shot.
· Featured every year at the fair are Master Hypnotist Mark Yuzuik, Wild West Turkey Stampede, and Swifty Swine pig races. Six magic shows, the Dragon Knights, Stu & Kazoo, the Godfrey Comedy Magic Show, Tom Griesgraber – Chapman Stick player, and Sidewalk Stompers are all regulars at the Del Mar Fair.
· Concerts, comedy shows, and other entertainment acts. Over 100 musical guests have performed at the fair over the years. Al Green, Alanis Morissett, Jewel, Mavericks, Commodores, Styx, Heart, and Lifehouse are just a few of the amazing acts who have graced the stage at Del Mar.
Join the summer fun at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where there is something fun for everyone.