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The San Diego County Fair (formerly called the Del Mar Fair) is a
county fair An agricultural show is a public event exhibiting the equipment, animals, sports and recreation associated with agriculture and animal husbandry. The largest comprise a livestock show (a judged event or display in which selective breeding, breedi ...

county fair
held every summer at the
Del Mar Fairgrounds The Del Mar Fairgrounds is a event venue in Del Mar, California Del Mar is a beach city in San Diego County, California, United States, incorporated on July 15, 1959. Del Mar is Spanish for "of the sea" or "by the sea," which reflects its lo ...

Del Mar Fairgrounds
in
Del Mar, California Del Mar (Spanish language, Spanish for "Of the Sea") is a beach town in San Diego County, California, located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Established in 1885 as a seaside resort, the city incorporated in 1959. The Del Mar Horse Races are ...

Del Mar, California
. The fair is a major draw for
San Diego County San Diego County, officially the County of San Diego, is a county A county is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics ...
residents; in recent years, attendance figures have risen above a million annually, reaching a record attendance of 1,609,481 in 2016. As of 2016, the San Diego County Fair was the largest
county fair An agricultural show is a public event exhibiting the equipment, animals, sports and recreation associated with agriculture and animal husbandry. The largest comprise a livestock show (a judged event or display in which selective breeding, breedi ...

county fair
in the United States, and the fifth largest fair of any kind.


History

The fair began in 1880 as an agricultural fair. The location moved from place to place for several years, finally settling on the Del Mar Fairgrounds when it opened in 1936. There was no fair in 1917–18 because of
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, 1942–45 because of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, and 2020 in response to the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic A pandemic (from , , "all" and , , "local people" the 'crowd') is an of an that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple or worldwide, affecting a substantial numbe ...

COVID-19 pandemic
. In 1954, the fair's name was changed to the ''Southern California Exposition and San Diego County Fair''. In 1970, this was shortened to the ''Southern California Exposition''. The fair was again renamed in 1984 to the ''Del Mar Fair'', which lasted until 2002 when the name ''San Diego County Fair'' was reinstated. It is sometimes still referred to as the "Del Mar Fair" by locals. After visiting farm animals at the fair in 2019, a 2-year-old boy died and three others were sickened but not hospitalized; they had contracted pathogenic E. coli, and the child had developed a kidney infection.


Fairest of the Fair

From 1936 through 2003 the fair included a beauty pageant. The winner was originally called Queen of the Fair; in 1947 the title was changed to Fairest of the Fair. The winner and her "court of lovelies" were featured at the fair and in public appearances throughout the year. In 2004 the pageant was discontinued due to high costs and legal wrangling over a disqualified entry in 2003. Most Memorable Contestant was 1979 Marlene Rosas of El Cajon, and the best known winner of the Fairest of the Fair pageant was the 1958 winner, a La Jolla High School student named Raquel Tejada, better known as actress
Raquel Welch Raquel Welch (born Jo Raquel Tejada; September 5, 1940) is an American actress, singer, and model. She first won attention for her role in ''Fantastic Voyage ''Fantastic Voyage'' is a 1966 American science fiction film, science fiction adven ...

Raquel Welch
.


Don Diego

For decades the official greeter and host of the fair was Don Diego, a smiling caballero portrayed by Spanish actor Tommy Hernandez from 1947 until his death in 1984. The character was based on a real person, Don Diego Alvarado, whose family had a large land grant in the Del Mar area during the late 1800s; Alvarado was known for his grand parties and was regarded as the local symbol of a gracious host. Dressed in a huge sombrero, embroidered tunic and trousers, and boots, and toting a guitar, Hernandez promoted the fair as its goodwill ambassador. He escorted the Fairest of the Fair and other celebrities, and personally greeted ordinary fairgoers with a "¡Bienvenidos Amigos!" ("Welcome, Friends)". After Hernandez' death the fair board decided to retire the character rather than try to replace Hernandez, who they felt had been uniquely qualified for the role of Don Diego. A 16-foot bronze statue of Hernandez as Don Diego, created by artist Maher Morcos, now stands at the fair's main entrance. The fair established a scholarship fund in 1986, the Don Diego fund, in his honor. Each year the statue is dressed in garb that is appropriate to the theme of that year's fair.


Features

The fair features many musical and talent performances from artists of varying genres, from nationally known acts on the infield stage to local professionals to amateur groups. There are dozens of contests ranging from agricultural efforts to cooking to flower arranging. As with many county fairs, animal exhibits are abundant. There are also two buildings full of commercial exhibits. There are exhibits featuring San Diego County's heritage, as well as exhibits specially designed for the fair's theme, which changes annually, making the fair somewhat different each year. This year's theme is "Heroes Unite!". Children and students are honored in the ''Kids' Best'' and ''Student Showcase'' displays, which feature artwork created by students ranging from kindergarten through community college. School yearbooks are displayed as well as woodworking, photography, and art projects constructed by high school students. All ages can display their talents in exhibits such as ''Design in Wood'', photo and art shows, and ''Home and Hobby''. Each day features a particular city or town in San Diego County. Food also is a feature of the fair, with more than 100 food booths. There are many fair classics as well as other interesting or outrageous creations such as beef sundaes, fried
Twinkies A Twinkie is an American snack cake Snack cakes are a type of baked dessert confectionery made with cake, sugar, and icing (food), icing. Markets Canada The main manufacturer in Canada is Vachon Inc. which makes and distributes such products ...
, and apple fries. Something new is added every year, such as fried cola in 2007, chocolate bacon in 2009, and fried butter in 2010. In 2015 the new Fair fare is an eclectic mix of pork and bacon to sweets and spice - and much more. 2019 saw the debut of the Buffalo Chicken
Chimichanga A chimichanga (; ) is a Deep frying, deep-fried burrito that is common in Tex-Mex and other Southwestern cuisine, Southwestern U.S. cuisine. The dish is typically prepared by filling a flour tortilla with various ingredients, most commonly rice, c ...

Chimichanga
. From Wasabi Bacon Bombs to Sriracha Corn Dogs, Deep-fried Slimfast Bars, and a Fireball Donut, there is a lot to eat and see at the San Diego County Fair. The
Fourth of July Independence Day (colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in c ...
brings events celebrating the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
' independence, including a parade and a large fireworks display in the evening. With an average daily attendance of more than 60,000 in 2014, it is the fourth largest fair in North America, and California's largest ever, surpassed in attendance only by the
State Fair of Texas The State Fair of Texas is an annual state fair A state fair is an annual competitive and recreational gathering of a U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or ...
,
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, also called RodeoHouston or abbreviated HLSR, is the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo Rodeo () is a competitive equestrian sport The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback rid ...
, and the
Minnesota State Fair The Minnesota State Fair is the state fair A state fair is an annual competitive and recreational gathering of a U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), ...
.


Date and location

The fair is generally held from the last weekend in May (early June otherwise) through the Fourth of July weekend, and is closed Mondays/Tuesdays in June. The fair is held at the
Del Mar Fairgrounds The Del Mar Fairgrounds is a event venue in Del Mar, California Del Mar is a beach city in San Diego County, California, United States, incorporated on July 15, 1959. Del Mar is Spanish for "of the sea" or "by the sea," which reflects its lo ...

Del Mar Fairgrounds
in Del Mar, California, off the Via De La Valle exit (Exit 36) on the
Interstate 5 Interstate 5 (I-5) is the main north–south Interstate Highway System, Interstate Highway on the West Coast of the United States, running largely parallel to the Pacific coast of the contiguous U.S. from Mexico to Canada. It travels t ...
Freeway. The address is 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014.
Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
and
COASTER Coaster or Coasters may refer to: * Drink coaster, on which to rest a beverage container * Coaster (commuter rail), a regional rail service in San Diego County, California * Coaster (video game), ''Coaster'' (video game), a 1993 roller coaster sim ...
stop at the nearby
Solana Beach station Solana Beach station, also known as the Solana Beach Transit Center, is a train station on Amtrak California's ''Pacific Surfliner'' passenger train and on North County Transit District's Coaster (San Diego), COASTER commuter rail route located i ...
on regular schedules, and they usually increase service during the events of the fair (NCTD uses their "Fair Tripper" ticket packages for discounts and Amtrak increases capacity). There are plans in the future to build a special events platform on the west side of the Del Mar Fairgrounds to provide easier access to events held there, such as the fair.


Parking

The Del Mar Fairgrounds charges $17 for parking in their main lots during the San Diego Fair. There are multiple free and reduced fee options for parking during the fair that includes free shuttle service to help combat traffic and parking problems. * Torrey Pines High School, 3710 Del Mar Heights Rd., Del Mar Saturdays and Sundays * MiraCosta College's San Elijo Campus, 3333 Manchester Ave., Cardiff Saturdays and Sundays * Del Mar Horsepark (just east of the fair), 14550 El Camino Real, Del Mar everyday fair is open ($5) San Diego Fair Parking


Themes

Since 1998 the San Diego County Fair has adopted a theme. * 1998 -
Camping Camping is an outdoor activity Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is time spent away f ...

Camping
* 1999 -
Baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball gameBat-and-ball may refer to: *Bat-and-ball games Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games) are field games played by two opposing teams, in which the action starts when the defending team throws a ball at ...

Baseball
* 2000 -
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
* 2001 -
Surfing Surfing is a surface water sport The following is a list of surface water sports. These are sports which are performed atop a body of water. Towed water sports Environmental impact includes noise, pollutants, shoreline degradation, and dist ...

Surfing
* 2002 -
Elvis Presley Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was an American singer and actor. Dubbed the " King of Rock and Roll", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. His energized interpreta ...

Elvis Presley
* 2003 - Ocean/Beach * 2004 -
Dr. Seuss Theodor Seuss Geisel (;"Seuss"
''
A Fair to Remember * 2016 - Mad About the Fair * 2017 - Where the West is Fun * 2018 - How Sweet it is * 2019 - OzSome! * 2020 - (No 2020 fair in response to the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic A pandemic (from , , "all" and , , "local people" the 'crowd') is an of an that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple or worldwide, affecting a substantial numbe ...

COVID-19 pandemic
) * 2021 - Home Grown Fun * 2022 - Heroes Unite!


References


External links


San Diego County Fair websiteDel Mar Fairgrounds website
{{coord, 32.975, -117.260, region:US-CA_type:landmark, display=title Festivals in San Diego Fairs in California Del Mar, California Annual fairs Annual events in California Tourist attractions in San Diego County, California