San Diego County Fair – How Sweet It Is

County and state fairs have a centuries-long tradition of show and tell combined with one-upsmanship. Starting in England where farmers brought in their prize heifers and opportunities to guess the weight of a prime porcine (eventually giving way to the Wisdom of Crowds), fairs spread to the New World. Local and imported talent added to the attraction (one of my favorite state fair experiences was decades ago in Minnesota, where Bob Dylan played his first home-state gig in eons).

Closer to home, the San Diego County Fair has just opened. This year’s theme is How Sweet It Is, which grabs the main issue by the horns. Fairs have been competing for the most outrageous culinary offerings. We have seen deep fried Snicker bars, but this year you can indulge in lasagna nachos, chocolate spaghetti or deep fried filet mignon.

I prefer the old school classic of roasted corn, and I had to be restrained after several cobs.

For those who want a little bit of it all, every Thursday between noon and 5:00PM, the food vendors offer taster-sized portions of some of their most popular offerings for just $3.00. Perfect for those with more curiosity than bravery, or simply for people who can’t decide what to try.

For the second year, the San Diego Garden Railway Society has built a great garden display, complete with moving trains. In keeping with the theme of the fair, the model trains pass the Hershey candy factory, the C&H Sugar Factory and more stops for sweet toothed folks.

Technology allows for ever more stomach churning rides, and this year is no exception. I took the 130 foot plunge on the Bungee Jump (the 13 story view includes a view north into Del Mar, south into Solana Beach and far east to the mountains). The well-oiled launch team includes cameramen who shuttle an SD card between camera and TV, offering a USB upsell for social media purposes and bragging rights.

Entertainment during the run of the fair will include The Cult (wait until the end for their big hit “She Sells Sanctuary”). Definitely worth checking out are trumpet player Herb Alpert and his wife Lani Hall. He led the Tijuana Brass (and even more lucratively, founded A&M Records) and she was the lead singer of the Sergio Mendes group, Brasil ‘66.

The usual array of ring toss games allow for folks to win a big plush animal for their dates; we saw a blue giraffe poking out of the back of a car as we exited for the evening.

Various attractive ticket prices make the fair affordable, and alternative travel options can ease the parking crush.

Step right up.


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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