San Diego County Fair
Del Mar Fairgrounds
June 4, 2017
We headed to the San Diego County Fair on its opening weekend. We always enjoyed going to fairs when we were children. Meredith remembers going with her father to the Barnstable County Fair in Massachusetts and with her grandparents to county fairs in Maine. Bob visited fairs in western Massachusetts, including the Three County Fair in Northampton, the Cummington Fair, and the Eastern States Exposition. When our children were small we took them to the sprawling Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, a splendid and overwhelming experience. Meredith’s mother Margaret entered items in the LA fair a couple of times, winning a blue ribbon for her Seminole jacket back in the 1980’s.
This time we started with the Old West theme exhibit near the entrance, then headed to the infield. We watched the Turkey Stampede, a fun and silly set of turkey races. We strolled through the model farm vegetable beds, then toured the “pollinator” area with a sample bee hive (safely under glass) and a butterfly enclosure. We really enjoyed going in and looking at the butterflies close up!
We opted for our usual (high calorie) fair favorites for lunch: Roxy’s garlic batter fried artichokes and Navajo fry bead, washed down with craft beer in the Paddock area. While we ate, we enjoyed listening to several bluegrass groups performing on the Paddock Stage, particularly a quartet called the Virtual Strangers.
The home arts building was our next stop, and we concentrated on the second floor. Meredith loves the handmade quilts, and it is fun to see what people chose to collect and share. In the fondant cake section we were amused to see a cake with a Star Wars theme, and Meredith sent a photo to her sister, who also loves Star Wars. The polymer bead club had a display table set up and was encouraging passers-by to make beads, which Meredith did.
We went on to the Swifty Swine pig races, which are a must-see for both of us. But who doesn’t love watching piglets run around a track to win an Oreo cookie? Absolutely ridiculous! On the way we wandered through the livestock barns and watched a couple of 4H competitions. After that we walked back to the garden exhibits near the main gate, including both the exterior garden landscapes and the cut flowers displayed inside.
We finished our fair visit listening to Tom Griesgraber playing the Chapman stick on the O’Brien Stage. We first discovered Tom at the fair several years ago, and always try to catch his act if we can.
The fair runs through July 4 this year. We used free offsite parking at the Horse Park, just east of the fairgrounds, and took the shuttle bus to the fair gate. Buses run frequently and get to use a back gate, so that is probably not only the thriftiest but possibly the quickest way to get to the fair. Full price admission is $18 for adults, $11 for seniors and children 6 and over; children 5 and under are free. Several discount deals are available, and the fair website has further information. Handicap access is good; most of the fairgrounds are at ground level, and there are elevators within the buildings.