photos provided by the San Diego County Fair

The Fab Fair

This summer, from Saturday, June 7 through Sunday, July 6, the 2014 San Diego County Fair becomes The Fab Fair as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the British Invasion.

This year the Fair features nearly 24,000 performers from nationally known bands to children’s dance troupes. Blue ribbons will be handed out to everything from the best zucchini to the best school yearbook. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts raise the flags at the daily opening ceremonies at the Fair and the Fourth of July celebration is an event that no resident can miss.

With competitions, exhibits, rides, concerts and more, the amount of fun that the San Diego County Fair brings to Del Mar is almost too much to squeeze into Del Sol Magazine, but we’re going to try it anyway!


Way back in 1880, when San Diego was home to only a couple thousand residents, a group of people decided to get together for the first agricultural fair in San Diego County. The goal was to share ideas, and compete to see who had the best fruit, vegetables, and horses.

In 1936, the Fair found its current and permanent home with the help from a half-million dollar grant from the Works Progress Administration. The 22nd District Agricultural Association (an agency of the State of California) owns the land and facilities and organizes the San Diego County Fair every year. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club leases the facilities for its live meet each year.

Attendance grew steadily throughout the 1930s with the combination of the County Fair and the Del Mar Turf Club. Bing Crosby’s involvement gave Del Mar a national stage with Hollywood’s elite as regular guests.

In 1942, the Fair was halted due to the start of World War II, and the fairgrounds became a training facility and temporary quarters for military personnel. The facility was even used as a manufacturing plant for parts for the B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber.

With the end of the war, the Fair resumed in 1946, and a new symbol was born: Don Diego. He would remain the most-recognized symbol of the County Fair for four decades to come.

From 1947 through 2004, the Fairest of the Fair Pageant selected one young woman to represent the Fair and in the early years, escorted through the grounds by Don Diego. The most notable winner of the pageant was a young La Jolla woman by the name of Raquel Tejada, who went on to become Raquel Welch of movie and television fame.

The event that takes place each year at the Del Mar Fairgrounds has operated under different names throughout the years, including The San Diego Fair and Citrus Show, Southern California Exposition, The Del Mar Fair, and the currently familiar San Diego County Fair. Although it is a state agency, the 22nd DAA uses no tax dollars to operate the Fairgrounds. Its operating revenue is generated entirely by the Fair and other activities on the grounds. The 22nd DAA has an annual operating budget in excess of $50 million (approximately $20 million of which is the budget for the Fair), employs a full-time, year-round staff of nearly 160, and is the source of seasonal employment for more than 3,000 people.

Information courtesy of the Del Mar Fairgrounds and San Diego County Fair


Special Theme:
The Fab Fair Exhibit

This year, the Fair will be showcasing two photographic exhibits never-before-seen in California. The Beatles! Backstage and Behind the Scenes opens the CBS Television archives with more than eighty never-before-published photos from this era.

Give Peace a Chance commemorates John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s historic “bed-in” for peace, which lasted May 26 through June 2, 1969 in Suite 1742 of Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

Info for Kids/Schools

Individuals, groups, and classrooms are encouraged to showcase their personal or cooperative work from this year. Entry categories include: art, graphic design, photography, general technology, community service projects, crafts, missions, writing, educational projects, and more. The deadline to register for entry online is in early May, so hurry!

School Field Trip Program
All schools are invited to take a free self-guided field trip to the Fair. Classes may also participate in an educational learning tour. For more information contact Nicola Bysouth at or
858-755-1161, ext. 2404.

Reading Certificates
Students age 12 and younger, who read ten books, can complete the Reading Certificate and receive free admission to the Fair. Reading certificates are available on the San Diego County Fair website.

Free Admission
Fairgoers age 12 and younger are admitted free every Tuesday. Kids’ Days feature entertainment and contests that are loads of fun for the youngest guests.


Contests are a huge part of the San Diego County Fair each year. We’ve provided a sampling of some of the more popular competitions. There are several with quickly approaching entry deadlines (and some that have passed already). For more information about specific contests, entry requirements and dates, please visit

Youth Contests

Cover2Oratorical Contest
pre-registration required by
Friday, May 30; Contest on June 8

Homegrown Produce
pre-registration required
by Friday, June 6
Show 1: Saturday, June 14
Show 2: Saturday, June 21
Show 3: Saturday, June 2

Spinning Contest
Must register online by
Wednesday, June 11
Contest on Sunday, June 15

Zucchini Race
Pre-registration required by
Friday, May 30
Contest for kids ages 5 to 12
Contest on Saturday, June 21

Pocket Pet Contest
Pre-registration required by
Friday, May 30
Contest on Sunday, June 29

Adult Contests

Homegrown Produce
Pre-registration required by
Friday, June 6
Show 1: Saturday, June 14
Show 2: Saturday, June 21
Show 3: Saturday, June 28

Spinning Contest
Must register online by
Wednesday, June 11
Contest on Sunday, June 15

Plein Air
Must register online by
Friday, June 13
Contest on Thursday, June 19

Small Image Contest
Contest on Thursday, June 26

Photo Shootout
Registration dates vary
Contest dates vary

Agricultural Contests

Homemade Harvested Honey
Open to beekeepers ages 12 years or older
Contest on Saturday, June 14

Homegrown Produce Contest
Pre-registration required by
Friday, June 6
Show 1: Saturday, June 14
Show 2: Saturday, June 21
Show 3: Saturday, June 28

Homegrown Zucchini Contest
Contest on Saturday, July 5

Pocket Pets
Deadline to enter is May 30
Contest for kids ages 5 to 15
Contest on Sunday, June 29

Battle of the Bands
Returning to the San Diego County Fair is the popular Battle of the Bands contest, with a unique twist: each band will perform a Beatles song, in honor of the Fab Fair theme. The top bands will compete in the final round, with a chance to win a grand prize of $3,000. The first-place band will also be asked to return to the Fair for an encore performance.
Final Round on June 27
1st Place: $3,000
2nd Place: $2,000
3rd Place: $1,000

Southern California’s Best Dance Crew
Don’t worry, nobody’s going to get “schooled.” Professional and amateur dance groups of five or more will compete and be judged based on their technical skills, showmanship, creativity, rhythm and costume.
Contest on June 15 | 11:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Oratorical Contest
Individuals or groups up to three members perform orations (original material, a famous speech, a poem or a story), vying for cash prizes and regional recognition. This year’s theme is “There Are Places I Remember…” open to everyone from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Pre-registration deadline is May 30
Contest on June 8

In it’s fourth year, the Singer-Songwriter Contest is back by popular demand. Solo performances will showcase original talent and songwriting ability. The grand prize of $3,000 will be awarded to the highest judged emerging artist.
June 20

Ultimate Triple Threat
Acting, singing and dancing. The so-called “Triple Threat” is awarded to performers who can achieve excellence in all areas. Youth and teens compete in all three categories for a chance to win the $1,200 grand prize.
Various Dates

For more information on entering or attending any contests at the San Diego County Fair visit their website at




Gospel Festival
Saturday, June 28
The 10th Annual Gospel Festival will feature a full day of uplifting gospel artists across five stages and ending with a Grandstand Stage performance by Fred Hammond. A full list of performers is available at

Toast of the Coast Wine Festival
Saturday, June 14
California is internationally known for its great wine. Toast of the Coast celebrates this achievement with unlimited samples of contest-entered wines and access to an all-new Baja Food and Wine Pavilion. Two tasting sessions available.

Big Bite Bacon Fest
Saturday, July 5
Bacon is the new “it” food, and the Big Bite Bacon Fest is perfect for all bacon lovers. From appetizers to desserts, beer and even bacon-themed games, this is hog heaven for adults and kids alike.

San Diego International Beer Festival
June 20 – 22
With more than 12,000 beer lovers in attendance last year, the San Diego International Beer Festival has quickly become one of the top beer festivals and competitions in the country. Five separate tasting sessions available.

Concerts and Entertainment

No visit to the San Diego County Fair is complete without watching a performance from a world-class entertainer (or the next underground sensation). We’ve compiled a list of the officially announced performers (at time of print). Who are you excited to see this summer?

Cover_theFabFourToyota Summer Concert Series

Voz de Mando
Sunday, June 8
Joe Nichols with Jana Kramer
Wednesday, June 11
Jeff Dunham (paid show)
Thursday, June 12
Darius Rucker (paid show)
Friday, June 13
Hunter Hayes (paid show)
Saturday, June 14
Ramón Ayala
Sunday, June 15
Wednesday, June 18
Creedence Clearwater Revisited
Thursday, June 19
Smokey Robinson
Friday, June 20
Toni Braxton & Babyface (paid show)
Saturday, June 21
Grupo Intocable
Sunday, June 22
Tuesday, June 24
DigiTour 2014
Wednesday, June 25
The Fab Four
Thursday, June 26

“We’re really looking forward to our show at the Fab Fair this summer. We know we’ll see a lot of our fans, and we hope to make a lot of new ones. See you at the San Diego County Fair on June 26!”
– Ron, Gavin, Ardy, and Erik /The Fab Four
10th Annual Gospel Festival featuring Fred Hammond
Saturday, June 28
Espinoza Paz
Sunday, June 29
Huey Lewis and the News
Tuesday, July 1
REO Speedwagon with The Moderates
Wednesday, July 2
Thursday, July 3
America with Navy Band Southwest and Fireworks!
Friday, July 4
Ezequiel Peña (with equestrian show)
July 6, 7:30 p.m.

Ford Dealers Paddock Concert Series

The Ford Dealers Paddock Concert Series features nationally known artists and tribute bands performing in one of the Fair’s most intimate settings.

Taylor Hicks with Alexis Babini
Wednesday, June 11
“It’s really great to come back to one of my favorite cities in this country and perform! San Diego get ready for some roadhouse tunes.”
-Taylor Hicks.
Thursday, June 12
Teen Hoot
Wednesday, June 18
The McCartney Years
Thursday, June 19
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Tuesday, June 24
Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band
Wednesday, June 25
Leon Russell
Thursday, June 26
The Tubes with Fee Waybill
Thursday, July 3

Additional Concerts

Rock On Series: The Coors Light Rock On Series late-night lineup features singers and bands from the western U.S. and tribute bands from across the country. Admission is for those 21+. Shows begin at 9 p.m. and are free with Fair admission; no reserved seating.

Solid Gold Series

The Solid Gold Series brings to the San Diego County Fair the great music and performers who first achieved fame during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Concerts begin at 1 p.m. on Thursdays with performances on the San Diego Showcase Stage.

Friday Night Funnies

Comedy at the Fair! A lineup of fresh, hot comics with credits from The Tonight Show, Comedy Central and more provide laughs every Friday at 9:00 p.m. inside the Turf Club.

Special Events

Día de la Familia
Every Sunday is Día de la Familia (Day of the Family) at the San Diego County Fair. Mexican culture and traditions enrich the fair experience and the Plaza Stage features special performances.

Enviro Fair
The Paddock area is transformed into the 15th Annual Enviro Fair on Saturday, June 21 at the Fair. Everything from sustainable farming to buying locally grown produce will be featured. Chefs will give helpful advice and provide samples of unique ways to prepare healthy foods.

Fourth of July
One of this year’s biggest events is Independence Day at the San Diego County Fair. With a patriotic Opening Ceremony, and a Hometown Heroes Parade to celebrate our local heroes who make a difference in the lives of others, the all-day celebration will make all San Diegans proud. Topped off with 9 p.m. fireworks (visible from the entire fairgrounds), this is the event that residents will not want to miss.

Del Mar Arena Shows:
Fire Expo and Demo Derby presented by Viejas
June 7 | 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
3rd Annual Spy Del Moto Derby
June 8 | 10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Charity Fair bHorse Show
June 11 – 13 | 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
June 14 | 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Southern California’s Best Dance Crew
June 15 | 11:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Del Mar Classic Amateur Horse Show
June 18 | 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Timberworks Lumberjack Show
June 19 | 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
United States Police and Fire Championships
June 24 | 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Tuff Truck Racing: Open Class
June 25 – 26 | 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Tuff Truck Racing: Beach Buggy Racing and Street Class
June 27 | 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Antique Car Races
June 28 | 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Demolition Derby
June 28 | 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Monster Truck Rally
June 29 and July 1 – 4 | 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.


New this year: San Diego State Park Exhibit
In honor of the 150th Anniversary of California State Parks, the San Diego County State Parks will have an educational exhibit and volunteers will be present almost every day of the Fair to share information on state park careers, events and traditions.

Livestock Barns
Cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats can be found in the Livestock Barn and Barn W every day of the Fair. Rings 1, 2 and 3 showcase the animals competing for the Blue Ribbon. Also visible are the small animals located in the Agrifair building, including rabbits, pigeons, poultry and more!

Large Animal Schedule
June 7 – 8: Pygmy goats, llamas, Cotswold Regional (sheep) Show and Western Regional Southdown (sheep) Show
June 11 – 15: Beef cattle, sheep, Angora goats
June 18 – 22: Dairy cattle, dairy goats
June 29 – July 6 (Market Week): Beef cattle, lambs, pigs, goats. Animals shown this week are the ones raised by youth in 4H and FFA.

Small Animal Schedule
June 7 – 8: Pigeons
June 11 – 15: Rabbits
June 18 – 22: Poultry
June 22: Dogs
June 24 – 28: Cavies
June 29 – July 6 (Market Week): Turkeys, chickens and rabbits. Animals shown this week are the ones raised by youth in 4H and FFA.

Junior Livestock Auction
Saturday, July 5: One of the most popular attractions every year is the live Junior Livestock Auction. Youth 4H and FFA members will sell their blue-ribbon-winning market animals to the highest bidder. Interested buyers can contact the Livestock Office at 858-792-4283 for more information or get more details on the Junior Livestock Auction page.

Turkey Stampede
Remote control monster trucks filled with meat will lead a flock of turkeys through the finish line several times daily at The Wild West Turkey Stampede. Root for your favorite turkeys to win the race and laugh your tail feathers off while doing it.

Family Funville
The “Infield” area at the San Diego County Fair is transformed every year into Family Funville. With an emphasis on kids and activities the whole family can enjoy, there’s never a dull moment. Most activities in this area are open all day until 9 p.m.

World of Horses at Family Funville
Open June 7 – July 2 | Fair Opening – 6 p.m.
Featuring more than twenty breeds of horses and offering daily riding, grooming and horseshoeing demonstrations, this is an area no horse-lover should miss. This year’s breeds include Pony of the Americas, Miniature Horses, Donkey, Mule, and Draft Horse.