Del Mar fair board comments positive on KAABOO event


Statistics from the annual KAABOO entertainment festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds aren’t available yet, but the venue’s overseers say the three-day event went well.

“It was a great festival, with lots of great music, and lots of happy people,” said General Manager Tim Fennell of the 22nd District Agricultural Association.

The state agency operates the sprawling grounds situated between the coastal highway and Interstate 5.

Board members held their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Oct. 9, and were scheduled to hear a summary of KAABOO, which took place Sept. 14, 15 and 16.

The music, comedy and art extravaganza featured nearly 100 acts, including pop and rock music headliners Katy Perry, Robert Plant, Imagine Dragons and Foo Fighters, and comedian Judd Apatow.

KAABOO representatives, however, were not ready to present the information this week and are expected to appear at the board’s meeting scheduled Wednesday, Nov. 14, fairgrounds officials said.

“They said it sold out all three days,” said board Director Richard Valdez, chairman of the panel’s KAABOO Ad Hoc Committee.

KAABOO organizers have said attendance was capped at 40,000 each day. That is easily within the capacity of the fairgrounds, the home of the annual San Diego County Fair and two yearly horse race meets of national consequence run by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Fennell said the KAABOO dates were free of major problems and controversy.

Other recent events at the fairgrounds have not fared so well.

A concert put on by the thoroughbred club on Sept. 2 that featured the rap artist Ice Cube was marred when a disgruntled man pulled out a gun and fired a shot in the air. The man allegedly was upset about being unable to buy a ticket at the sold-out show.

A firearm show held for years on the grounds has in recent months attracted protests from anti-gun violence activities.

In September, the board decided to at least temporarily halt the shows while considering the idea of allowing them without the presence of weapons and ammunition.

A number of speakers Tuesday, Oct. 9, demanded the board avoid going forward next year with the Good Life Seminar, a forum for educating the public on the uses and benefits of cannabis, known popularly as marijuana.

Only one speaker talked about KAABOO, and her concern related to some internal food-and-beverage service issues.

Board Director Lee Haydu said noise complaints mainly came from residents south of the fairgrounds who were bothered by booming bass notes.

“It wasn’t like the noise we had several years before,” she said.

In an interview after the meeting, Fennell said this year’s KAABOO was the fourth at the fairgrounds and the third under a five-year contract.

“It sold out and they’ve started selling tickets for next year,” Fennell said, adding that the 2019 event will also be held on the same weekend next September.

“It’s financially terrific for the fairgrounds,” he said. “If you can find an event in mid-September that produces a net of $800,000 to the 22nd District Agricultural Association, I’d like to hear about it.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s an excellent event. It’s a positive event.”