DEL MAR — After much speculation, and recent changes in state reopening guidelines regarding the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the 22nd District Agricultural Association tasked with operating the Del Mar Fairgrounds agreed to plans for a modified version of the annual county fair.
San Diego County Fair Presents: Homegrown Fun! will take place June 11-July 4, closed Mondays and Tuesdays and open from noon to 9 p.m, and in a smaller footprint than San Diegans are used to with the traditional county fair.
“We are very pleased to present a version of the fair that will provide the community with an essence of some of the most important traditions San Diegans look forward to every year to start their summer,” said Katie Mueller, chief business services operator at the fairgrounds.
The event will not take space from the current vaccination supersite at the fairgrounds, according to the plans presented to the board. That was the most difficult task since the supersite is using the main parking lot for the fairgrounds.
“We’ve gotten creative with our parking and traffic teams,” Mueller said. “We’ve been able to identify the racetrack, the training track and a part of the west lot as well as the green lot.”
It is estimated there will be about 3000 parking spaces to utilize for the duration of the event. Expectations are also that a capacity of 10,000 attendees will be enforced to comply with COVID-19 protocols but that number is limited more by the parking situation.
Bing Crosby Hall and the Seaside Pavillion will both be used for retail shopping and sponsorship displays. Under the current COVID tier, indoor venues such as those are limited to 25% capacity.
“We hope and anticipate that we will be moving up tiers by June and we will be able to allow more capacity,” Mueller said.
A central part of the fair every year is food, as shown by the Fair Food Fix drive-thru event the fairgrounds put on last summer. Food stands will be returning to the event this year with at least 20 vendors with the board hoping for more before June.
Other attractions will include animal presentations, community demonstrations and the fairgrounds also hopes to have a Fourth of July fireworks display to close out the event.
Carnival rides or midway games will not be at this special county fair event.
Mueller says the fairgrounds has been in consultation with the county public health department to determine the safety of the event.
“They have advised us that with the proper COVID-19 protocol plan in place this event is doable. And especially by June, we’re all optimistic that it’s doable if things continue on the positive path that they’ve been on,” Mueller said.
While it is still a moving target with guidelines changing as vaccinations increase and hospitalizations decrease, it is currently anticipated that masks will be required for the event. However, the fairgrounds will look to local public health orders for such a requirement.
Additionally, to help curb large groups coming to the fairgrounds that exceed the capacity, all tickets and parking passes will be sold online only for this event although specifics on purchasing those tickets is not yet available.
Board Vice President Lisa Barkett expressed her joy in the plans presented Tuesday.
“This is what I was hoping and praying for to be honest,” Barkett said. “That we would have something on this level. I’m so excited and ready to buy my ticket.”
President Richard Valdez echoed similar sentiments in his thanking staff and the fair operations committee for their work on these plans for the fair.
“This is really exciting and something that is feeling as though we are turning the corner to some kind of normalcy for the first time in months and months,” Valdez said.