DEL MAR — The 2023 San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds saw a rise in attendees from the previous year, fair officials said, indicating continued post-pandemic growth.
Over its 22-day run, the fairgrounds saw 997,720 visitors “Get Out There!” at the fair, marking a nearly 200,000-person increase from 2022.
This is still well below the pre-pandemic attendance levels of around 1.5 million, but fair officials said they were more focused on providing a great experience for each fairgoer this year.
“Our numbers this year are fantastic, and that is important to us, but this Fair is and should be about more than just attendance figures and financial metrics,” said Fairgrounds CEO Carlene Moore. “We are truly in the business of creating lasting memories and strengthening our diverse community. This Fair is about education, tradition, economic opportunity, innovation, partnerships, and, of course, family friendly fun. In these ways, we believe this year’s Fair was a smashing success.”
Officials said while they increased food and entertainment options, they also prioritized various strategies to limit overcrowding and long lines, facilitate improved traffic and parking, and reduce negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood.
Along with improving the Midway layout and offering more shaded seating, this included going cashless for admission and parking, promoting offsite parking and alternative transportation like the NCTD Fair Tripper, and not scheduling the most popular concerts on the historically busiest days, officials said.
“We are excited to take what we learned this year and to reinvest our revenues so we can build an even better San Diego County Fair in 2024,” Moore said.
The Grandstand Concert Series drew 58,000 attendees between 13 different shows. The show by Los Tigres del Norte drew the largest crowd, with over 7,500 people, followed by performances of hip-hop artist Nelly and famed comedian and actor Kevin Hart.
When it came to the carnival, The Joker 360 was the most popular new ride with over 36,000 riders, and upward of 80,000 people each enjoyed rides on the Crazy Mouse, Fast Trax Slide and Sky Ride.
Among the 100-plus vendors offering delicious concessions, Apollo’s Greek sold over 10,000 chicken gyro pitas, and Biggy’s sold over 1,100 of their Hot Cheeto Chicken Sandwich, the food item named Best of Show title in the Fair-tastic Foods Competition.
Mom’s Bakeshoppe sold a whopping 160,000 chocolate chip cookies throughout the fair.
As always, livestock played a large role at the fair. Over 350 San Diego County youth ages 9 to 18 participated in the popular Junior Livestock Auction, with nearly 500 animals entered into the market competition.
The auction raised over $482,000 — an increase of $59,000 from last year — by selling 228 animals. “Chicken Charlie” Boghosian paid nearly $28,000 for the Beef Grand Champion steer from exhibitor and Fallbrook High School FFA Student Clayton Critz, whose twin brother Landon Critz saw his steer win the reserve grand champion title.
Over 1,000 seasonal workers were hired to make this year’s fair run smoothly.