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On opening day, San Diego County Fair showcases food and fun

DEL MAR, Calif. – Wednesday marks the opening day of the much-beloved San Diego County Fair.

The annual showcase at the Del Mar Fairgrounds returns in full force this year as the COVID-19 pandemic prompted organizers to scale it down in recent years. This year’s theme is “Heroes Re-Unite” with fair officials celebrating pop culture superheroes from comic books and the silver screen to the awe-inspiring community heroes found in local neighborhoods.

It runs from June 8 through July 4, opening to the public every Wednesday through Sunday in addition to July 4, which falls on a Monday this year.

Featured at this year’s fair are carnival rides, musical performances and plenty of delicious food options — like San Diego’s own Chicken Charlie’s — as well as a number of superhero-themed tie-ins and real-life community heroes who put Clark Kent to shame.

But the food remains an annual draw of the fair and Charlie Boghosian is up to the task with a mix of fried dishes to fit almost any diet.

“It feels great,” Boghosian said. “The fair never looked this good before. When I came in this morning way earlier, it looked so beautiful. We put it together and I think we’re ready.”

One of those dishes is the Kool-Aid chicken sandwich with a spicy pickle. Boghosian says he made a Kool-Aid sauce with cayenne seasoning “to give it a little kick.” It’s not to be confused with the restaurant’s popular Flamin Hot Chicken sandwich, though.

“It’s a tad spicy,” Boghosian said. “It’s a little bit spicy, yeah. The pickle is amazing.”

He’s one of a few familiar locals expected to be on hand throughout the fair.

Another is Chula Vista resident Terry Godfrey, who goes by Godfrey the Magician. Godfrey said he’s thrilled for the return of the fair, which he’s been working since the mid-1980s.

A mix of fried food items seen on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 from Chicken Charlie’s at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, Calif. (KSWB)

But magic was a part of his life long before that, he said.

“I learned to be a magician because I’m an asthmatic,” he said. “I used to go to the school library during PE class to read magic books, so that’s how I learned.”

Then there’s Mark Wilder, who delights crowds by skipping rope while on a unicycle. He keeps the jump rope in a fanny pack around his waist, calling it “the most difficult and dangerous unicycle trick for an adult male.”

“This is real life,” Wilder said Wednesday as he showed off the daring trick.

Gates open at the fair from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. They remain open on Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.

Interested in attending? FOX 5 has a handy guide on the fair with information on ticket prices, this year’s concert lineup and other information attendees should know before they go.

FOX 5’s Matt Meyer and Dillon Davis contributed to this report.