California, USA – “I am very excited and my entire family is ready,” says Nick Siman, San Diego County Fair’s self proclaimed biggest fan. Over a million residents will be joining Siman as “the greatest indoor-outdoor show on Earth” opens their doors.
The San Diego County Fair opens Saturday, a 21-day extravaganza that costs nearly $140 million to put together. The 360-acre fairground was a disaster-relief center for horses and people evacuated during the October 2007 wildfires.
In a few short days, Chaldeans by the thousands will join the millions of other guest and flock to the sports themed fair. Pop stars, celebrities, and professional athletes will be freely mingling with the crowd, signing autographs, and performing. An estimated 1,600 entertainment acts will let the good times roll on nine stages.
San Diego County Fair
Theme: Summer of Sports. Includes sports-related exhibits and activities, talks by professional and Olympic athletes, and more.
When: Saturday-July 6, closed June 16 and 23. Gates open 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Admission: Adults, $12; seniors 62 and older, $6; children 6 to 12, $6; children 5 and younger, free.
On-site parking: Cars and motorcycles, $9; recreational vehicles, $15; preferred parking, $15 (no motor homes).
Off-site parking: Free, with shuttles to the fairgrounds.
Daily at Horsepark Equestrian Center, Via de la Valle at El Camino Real, east of Interstate 5.
Weekends and July 4 at MiraCosta College in Cardiff, Interstate 5 and Manchester Avenue and Torrey Pines High School, Del Mar Heights Road.
Public transit: Hourly buses to and from Escondido Transit Center. A shuttle between the Solana Beach Train Station and the fair leaves every 25 minutes. Transit information, (760) 966-6500 or www.gonctd.com
The folks at the 22nd District Agricultural Association, a state agency that operates the fairgrounds, have spared no expense to make the 2008 fair as varied and lively as last year's. The agency is paying over a $250,000 alone for pop star Fergie to perform for no longer than 90 minutes.
Olympic and professional athletes will be on hand daily for live radio interviews and audience question-and-answer sessions. Shawne Merriman of the Chargers and former Padre and Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn are among the 200 athletes who will be available to meet and greet.
While sports will be taking center stage as the theme, Chaldean fairgoers will also have the opportunity to sample a potpourri of county fair fare, such as tasting beer made by 200 craft brewers or deep-fried Snickers bars. A smattering of food vendors interviewed this week say they are holding the line on prices for such fair favorites as fried zucchini, corn dogs and fish tacos.
A number of Chaldean favorite foods will also be available as Kabob Grill and House of Hummus showcase their gourmet fair food favorites. For fair-going families can bring their own food and leave their coolers for safekeeping at the Visitor Services
The fair is also a participatory event, where 24,000 children exhibit school-related projects or enter their livestock in shows. Thousands more adults enter contests. Among this year's competitions are best tailgate party recipe, best homegrown fruit and vegetable, and the most creative use of Malt-O-Meal cereal.
The fair is offering numerous ways for families on a budget to cut their costs. office. Fairgoers can also avoid the congestion as well as the $9 parking fee ($15 for recreational vehicles) by using one of four remote lots and taking a shuttle to the fairgrounds.
The sports-themed entertainment will take place at a 20,000-square-foot exhibit hall near the Pat O'Brien Gate off Jimmy Durante Boulevard. The hall has been decked out with sports memorabilia including a display of Olympic medals and Sports Illustrated magazine covers featuring athletes with a San Diego connection. Interactive exhibits include life-size photo cutouts of sports heroes, a putting green, punching bags and basketball hoops. Nearly every sport from table tennis to roller derby will be represented.