Planning for 2021 fair focusing on two possible scenarios

Del Mar Fairgrounds
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

A San Diego County Fair “unlike any other” will be held this summer at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, although the specific details may not be known until closer to the event, a fairgrounds official said Tuesday, Jan. 12.

“We are definitely going to be putting on a community event,” said Katie Mueller, chief business services officer with the 22nd District Agricultural Association, the agency that runs the state-owned fairgrounds. Mueller spoke at a meeting of the association’s board of directors Tuesday.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and the inability to hold events involving mass public gatherings, planning for the 2021 fair – to be held June 11 through July 4 – will focus on two different potential scenarios, Mueller said.

One option will be a drive-in/drive-through event, similar to events in 2020 such as the Fair Food Fix, Scream Zone, Concerts in Your Car and Holidays in Your Car, Mueller said. A junior livestock show and auction would be held June 21-27, and competitive exhibit programs that do not lend themselves to a drive-through presentation will be held virtually.

The second, more “optimistic” scenario, would be an outdoor event with reduced capacity to allow for social distancing, including food and beverage vendors, and “distanced interaction with many other fair favorites and traditions,” Mueller wrote in a report to the board.

While the second scenario would not be possible under current COVID-19 public health restrictions, planning must begin now in case restrictions are loosened by June.

In addition, the fairgrounds is considering a fall festival that would incorporate some of the activities that are not possible this summer, Mueller wrote.

At its meeting Tuesday, the board voted to refund $375,000 in vendor deposits that have been received for this year’s county fair. Mueller said fairgrounds officials hope to be able to offer a traditional, in-person San Diego County Fair in 2022.