DEL MAR –– A judge on Monday denied the 22nd District Agricultural Association’s request to stay a recent injunction preventing them from carrying out its midway carnival contract for the upcoming San Diego County Fair, but granted permission for carnival ticket sales to resume.
The latest decisions are part of an ongoing lawsuit against the 22nd DAA filed by Texas-based carnival operator Talley Amusements, alleging corruption, favoritism and bid-rigging during the Del Mar Fairgrounds’ selection process of a master carnival operator for the 2021 county fair, which was ultimately canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Medel first ruled on April 5 that the 22nd DAA could not carry out their 2022 carnival contract granted to Ray Cammack Shows in January, stating that there was enough evidence to suggest the contract process was rigged in violation of state public contract code.
In their request for Medel to stay the injunction, representatives for the 22nd DAA stated in a Monday filing that the 2022 fair would likely have to be canceled for the third year in a row unless they were permitted to carry out their contract.
“The 2022 San Diego County Fair is set to open in less than two months, on June 8, 2022, and ticket sales had already begun,” the request stated.
Leaders from the 22nd DAA also said they disagree with the allegations that formed the basis of the ruling — namely the assertion that the minimum qualifications in the request for proposals for a 2022 master carnival operator were changed from previous years so that it could only be met by RCS.
Despite claims that the fair would have to be canceled if the injunction was not stayed, the 22nd DAA appears to be moving forward with fair plans, including finding a new contract option for the midway.
“We are continuing discussions with the involved parties about a modified contract and we remain hopeful that we can reach a meaningful and appropriate resolution very soon. However, we cannot simply hand over the contract to the plaintiffs or anyone else in this case — we must follow a process that ensures that whatever solution we come up with is fair and equitable and complies with the law,” 22nd DAA spokeswoman Jennifer Hellman said in a Tuesday statement.
Funpass tickets allowing access to rides and games at the planned carnival had been on sale since April 2 alongside admission, parking and grandstand tickets, but were then halted by 22nd DAA after the injunction ruling. On Tuesday, Medel reached an agreement with Talley Amusements and the 22nd DAA to allow ticket sales to continue.
“Just today, the court agreed that the fair could restart ticket sales for the carnival midway, which of course is very positive,” 22nd DAA Board President Joyce Rowland said during a Tuesday meeting.
John Moot, an attorney representing Talley Amusement in the lawsuit, said the company wants to see the fair continue like everyone else.
“Talley wants there to be a successful fair, so they agreed to it,” Moot said.
During their Tuesday meeting, the 22nd DAA board unanimously approved grandstand entertainment contracts for performances by Nate Bergatze and Leanne Morgan, For King and Country, Sam Hunt and John Fogerty. The fair is also seeking one more potential grandstand performer, according to Fair Operations Committee Chair Frederick Schenk.
According to Katie Mueller, the fair has already sold over 15,000 tickets for grandstand concert performances and over 1,700 admission tickets.