DEL MAR – The San Diego County Fair will not take place this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic – an unprecedented reality for the long-running and beloved local event.
During its April 14 meeting, the 22nd District Agricultural Association Board of Directors decided to postpone the Del Mar Fairgrounds event until 2021.
The unanimous board decision was solidified hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom made a statement calling the prospect of mass gatherings “negligible” until there is a vaccine and herd immunity to the virus. He said that such gatherings in June, July and August were “unlikely.”
The fair, previously slated to open on June 5 and end on July 5, draws over 1.5 million visitors to the state-owned property every year, for food, entertainment, musical acts and rides. This year the event was to embrace a superhero theme.
“It was our intention to come here today and recommend putting on hold the decision for another week, but the governor provided us with the clarity we needed to make this decision today,” said Board President Richard Valdez. “It is with a tremendously heavy heart that we recommend this, and I think staff has looked at it every which way they can, and I think this is the only option.”
Tim Fennell, CEO of the fairgrounds and racetrack, said fairground staff looked at shortening the month-long event by a week or two or pushing the date further out, but the governor’s word prompted them to make a definitive decision.
“We carry over our hero theme into 2021, which I think is going to be very appropriate following the coronavirus episode we’re all going through,” Fennell said.
He added that staff is considering a much smaller and shorter festival in the fall, that would include music, entertainment and rides – but without the same magnitude as the fair.
“Time will tell…but we’re looking forward to 2021,” Fennell said. “We’ll all get through this together and I’m hoping next year, at this time, we’ll be again approving contracts and having a ribbon-cutting ceremony like what we haven’t seen before.”