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San Diego County Fair Opens With Excitement

Food at the San Diego County Fair. June 11, 2021.

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: Food at the San Diego County Fair. June 11, 2021.

The San Diego County Fair opened Friday but things look a bit different this year.

Gone are the carnival games, the animal petting zoos and some of the more thrilling rides. What remains the same is the excitement and fair favorites: Rows of food vendors, shopping booths and the Ferris wheel and carousel.

The theme for this year is “Home Grown Fun.”

“We’re so excited that we’re able to have Home Grown Fun,” said Ashley Colburn, the marketing coordinator for the San Diego County Fair. “We like to say that it’s a taste of that traditional fair that we all know and love here at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.”

In a typical year, there are an estimated 60,000 people attending the fair each day. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, crowd size is limited. Colburn said the fair expects to have around 13,000 people a day this year.

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Still, that didn’t tamper fair-goers’ excitement.

Maria Salazar attended opening day with her family. She said the one thing she missed most about the fair was the turkey leg.

“I just had to come back for those turkey legs. I love it,” she said. “And just to see other people — amazing.”

Karla Kirby was also there with her boyfriend, Mario Martinez. She said as soon as she found it was opening day, she needed to be here.

“I was like, ‘I have to get on it.'” Kirby said. “I had to for him to come out.”

“I had the day off too,” Martinez said.

Kirby missed the rides. Her boyfriend? Not so much. He was just here for the food.

“I’m not a fan of rides, so this is my little safe corner here,” Martinez said.

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And there is plenty of food around. This year there are 39 food booths throughout the fairgrounds, featuring everything from deep-fried brownies to smoky barbecue turkey legs, to sweets treats or food served on-a-stick.

Deep-fried brownie is a new offering from Chicken Charlie’s this year.

“It’s a brownie dipped in batter, dipped in buffalo sauce and sprinkled with a pineapple compost and we put a scoop of ice cream on top because we couldn’t leave it alone,” Chicken Charlie’s Gerald Smith said. “It seems like people like it. It’s quite a unique thing in itself. Where else are you going to see that?”

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Besides food, there are a variety of shows geared toward families with young children, such as the Swifty Swine Racing Pigs, Extreme Dogs show and an animal show. There won’t be any concerts this year, but various entertainers such as jugglers, magicians and musicians are sprinkled throughout the fair.

As for rides, there are only two right now, the Ferris wheel and carousel. Twelve additional kids’ rides will be added June 15 after California lifts most of its COVID-19 health orders.

The San Diego County Fair is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until July 4. Tickets are $10 per person.

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