San Diego County Fair plans a scaled-back agricultural event, ‘Homegrown Fun’
Homegrown Fun will share Del Mar Fairgrounds with vaccination superstation
A scaled-back event called “Homegrown Fun” is being planned for June 11 through July 4th to replace the annual San Diego County Fair, whicht was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very optimistic that with the advent of vaccinations that things will be loosening a bit,” said Katie Mueller, deputy general manager of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. “With a proper COVID protocol in place, this event is doable.”
Homegrown Fun would take place in a “reduced footprint” area separate from the vaccination superstation that opened in February using the Wyland Center building and much of the main parking lot. Tickets will be sold only online.
About 3,000 parking spaces will be available for the recreational event, which will be separated from the vaccination area by a fence and will have a daily capacity of about 10,000 people. Alternative transportation will be encouraged, as it always is for the fair.
“We will not have the traditional San Diego County Fair,” Mueller said. “Homegrown Fun will replace the traditional fair.”
More than 1.5 million people attended the county fair in 2019. The cancellation of the fair and other large events in 2020 was a financial catastrophe for the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which runs the fairgrounds. Almost two-thirds of the district’s staff was laid off in October.
Among the few events held in 2020 was something called Food Fair Favorites in June and early July with about 10 vendors that sold treats such as turkey legs, corn dogs and kettle corn. That will be repeated this year with as many as 20 vendors as part of Homegrown Fun, she said.
“The heart of the fair has always been agriculture, and we plan on celebrating that in a big way,” she said. Exhibits will include gardening and cow-milking demonstrations, and there will be socially distanced one-day contests such as bubble-gum blowing and plein air painting.
The traditional junior livestock auction will be held, but it will be open only to exhibitors and not the public. Last year, the auction was held entirely online.
Retail shopping will be included in the exhibit hall, Bing Crosby Hall and the Seaside Center, Mueller said. Vendors at the annual fair sell all sorts of things from Ginsu knives and stepladders to car wax and jewelry.
“If we can, following all state and county guidelines, we hope to have a Fourth of July celebration with fireworks and other patriotic activities,” Mueller said.
Ticket prices and other details should be worked out within a few more weeks, she said.
Carnival rides and grandstand entertainment will be among the most noticeable absences, and time is running out to schedule those activities.
Members of the 22nd DAA board of directors said they were pleased with the plans presented at Tuesday’s monthly meeting.
“This is wonderful to hear,” said Director Lisa Barkett. “I was hoping and praying that we would have something on this level.”
Board President Richard Valdez thanked the fairgrounds staff for their creativity and flexibility.
“If feels like we are turning the corner toward some sort of normalcy after months and months,” he said.
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