DEL MAR — Rows of fried food stands, dozens of heart-stopping rides and hundreds of livestock returned to the Del Mar Fairgrounds on June 8 for the 2022 San Diego County Fair following a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After its cancellation in 2020 and last year’s scaled-back Home Grown Fun, this year’s fair is operating full tilt for a monthlong run under the theme, “Heroes Reunite.” The fair operates Wednesdays through Sunday until July 4, punctuated by the highly-anticipated fireworks show.
Despite the cloudy weather, thousands of San Diego County residents came out to enjoy the opening days of the fair before the beginning of a busy weekend. With a new daily attendance limit of 50,000 people, some days are expected to sell out.
“I’ve been coming since I was a little kid, but this is my first time back since the pandemic. It’s nice to be back,” said San Diego resident Linde Fort.
On the midway, kids played their hand at carnival games in hopes of winning giant stuffed animals and waited for the offering of rides including the Mega Drop, Fast Trax Slide, roller coasters like the Crazy Mouse, spooky haunted houses and the 108-foot Giant Ferris Wheel.
Along with food, rides and live music, attendees could enjoy the various expo halls, including the Hall of Heroes exhibit, fine art and geode exhibitions, flower and garden shows and cow milking demonstrations by Hollandia Dairy.
Over in the Chevrolet Livestock Hall, hundreds of sheep and pigs were housed in pens while waiting to be shown in livestock showcases, with options for adults as well as youth in local Future Farmers of America and 4H chapters.
Terry Mendenhall, owner of Mendenhall Wool Ranch in Northern California, was one of several farms to transport animals down to the fair for showings, bringing 90 sheep that were grouped together in pens. On Friday, Mendenhall took time to trim each sheep’s wool and hooves — or as she called it, their “prom haircut.”
“The show is tomorrow and we’re trying to get everybody ready,” Mendenhall said, trimming the wool of a 2-month-old sheep named Hope to match that of her sister, Harriet. “This is her first time.”
The fair is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Tickets for admission and parking must be purchased online before arriving. Admission costs vary from $15 to $20 for ages 13 to 61 and $12 to $17 for ages 62 and up and youth ages 6 to 12, who also get free admission on Fridays. Youth ages 5 and under enter free of charge on all days.
Single-day parking options include $30 preferred parking close to the entrance and $15 general parking including the main lot, Solana Gate entrance or the Horsepark, available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Free parking is available at Torrey Pines High School at 3710 Del Mar Heights Road with a shuttle service to the fair.
For more information about daily events at the San Diego County Fair visit sdfair.com.
More photos from the ’22 San Diego County Fair: