'Get Out There!' San Diego County Fair opens Wednesday
The San Diego County Fair kicked off Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. with an opening ceremony featuring the Hilltop High School Emerald Effect Band and Color Guard.
The fair will run through July 4 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. It will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the other days. This year's theme is "Get Out There!" to encourage San Diegans to explore the great outdoors.
Fair attendees can view the winners of various competitive exhibitions, enjoy hair-raising rides in the FunZone, learn about local agriculture from food to fiber to flowers in the San Diego Grown area, and take in a plethora of entertainment on the fair's featured stages.
The fair features two new rides this year, The Medusa and Joker.
Elliana Buswell was one of the first people to ride The Medusa, a hair-raising 126-feet-tall ride that spins you around vertically on its two arms.
“It was, really like, nerve-wracking because it was really high up," Buswell said. "It was fun, though.”
The Joker is a ride that spins and flips riders around 360 degrees, while also rotating them on a 360-degree axis.
There's also the iconic Ferris wheel where attendees can get a birds-eye view of the entire fair, as well as panoramic views of the Del Mar coast.
Wednesday's opening day will also feature Grammy Award-winning band Train, performing on the Corona Grandstand Stage at 7:30 p.m.; Kalimba, a tribute to Earth Wind and Fire, will perform in the Chevrolet Paddock at 8 p.m.
Other featured concerts and performances include comedian Kevin Hart on Friday, La Adictiva on Sunday, Lynyrd Skynyrd on June 17, Boyz II Men on June 22, Stephen Marley on June 24, Nelly on June 28, Elle King and Randy Houser on June 29, Alabama on July 1 and Switchfoot and The Green on July 3. Dozens of other performers and musicians will fill the fair.
Special events include Out at the Fair on Saturday, The Toast of the Coast Wine Festival and Asian & Pacific Islander Festival on June 17, the Gospel Festival on June 24 and the International Beer Festival on July 1.
Other events and activities include "The Flying Royals" trapeze artists, the "Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show," "Swifty Swine Racing Pigs," "Extreme Dogs," comedian and acrobat "The Wilder Show and Oasis Camel Dairy."
There will be 115 food vendors serving the fair this year, nine of them are new. The Fair-Tastic Food competition on Friday will pick the best of the fair. Some finalists include the gourmet Snickers caramel apple by Fairtime Gourmet Apples, mango madness boba by Boba King, the Mermaid Float soda by Candy Factory, tasti papas locos by Tasti Chips, double decker funnel cake by Fried Food Factory, one-pound mozzarella log by Cheesy Chef, fried Cheetos potstickers by Chicken Charlie's Pineapple Express, Hot Cheeto chicken sandwich by Biggies and the Big Dipper s'mores sundae by Crutchee's Cream.
For many fair-goers Chicken Charlie's deep-fried delights are a tradition. And this year Chicken Charlie's has two new concoctions: fried s'mores on a stick and Flaming Hot Cheetos potstickers.
"Every year we got to try to outdo the year before, and this year we got fried s'mores on a stick," owner Charlie Boghosian said. "Basically, it's jumbo marshmallows on a stick. We put a whole lot of chocolate fudge on them, and then we roll that into diced-up graham crackers. We dip that in batter, fry it, and then top it off with more of all those toppings.”
New to the fair this year is: The Coconut Guy; they're serving up fresh coconut juice.
"We're a first-time vendor at the fair," said Dustin as he prepared a drink at The Coconut Guy stand. "We cut the coconut with a machete and when you're done drinking it, you can bring it back and we'll split it open and we'll cut out the meat for you to eat."
Tickets for adults ages 13-61 are $20 on weekends and $15 on weekdays, $17 and $12 for seniors and children ages 6-12. Children 5 years and younger get in free. The fair is cash-less, and tickets and parking passes should be purchased online in advance, but can be bought on-site.
Tickets can be purchased at sdfair.com/p/tickets. Parking can be purchased at sdfair.com/p/plan-your-visit/parking-transportation.
While driving to the fair is always an option, the Metropolitan Transit System, North County Transit District and the fair are partnering this year for the Fair Tripper, a package that offers a ticket to the event, a round- trip ticket on MTS trolleys and buses, NCTD's Coaster, Sprinter and Breeze services and a shuttle ride to and from the fairgrounds and the Solana Beach Coaster station.
In 2022, 973,508 people attended the fair after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic. Food and beverage sales surpassed pre-pandemic numbers, and spending was up 65% over 2019, according to fair officials. More than 7,400 stuffed animals were donated at the gates for the Care 'n Share Toy Drive, nearly 13,000 ribbons were awarded to community members and more than 17,000 entertainers performed for the crowds.
The San Diego County Fair began in 1880. More information can be found online.