Fairgrounds gets boost from Homegrown Fun, will seek additional state funding

Del Mar Fairgrounds
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

Homegrown Fun at the Del Mar Fairgrounds provided a boost to the state-owned venue after more than a year of limited activity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but board members and staff are bracing for the potential consequences of the Delta variant.

“We’re on track for it to meet our budget forecast, which was to provide $2 million net to our bottom line,” Carlene Moore, CEO of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, said during an Aug. 10 fairgrounds board of directors meeting. “We’re very much on track for that, even in terms of estimating the outstanding bills for it. So we’re really excited about the overall success of the event and what it meant to the community.”

Moore said that there will be a complete report on the Homegrown Fun financials at the next fair board meeting in September. That report was originally scheduled for this month’s meeting, but some of the billing is still pending.

The month-long event, which served as a scaled-down version of the San Diego County Fair, drew about 272,000 people. It concluded last month with a Fourth of July fireworks display. Some of the preliminary financial returns, announced last month, included $1.44 million of gross revenue in admission, $1.86 million in rides and nearly $633,000 in parking.

But the fairgrounds still faces uncertainty due to the Delta variant.

“We’ve already seen it with the cancelation, for example, of a large party for horse racing, and that has a trickle-down effect to us as well through food and beverage,” Moore said.

As part of the recently approved state budget, $50 million was appropriated for the Network of California Fairgrounds. The state Department of Food and Agriculture will distribute the money on a need-based application process. The Del Mar Fairgrounds, which has received federal and state aid at different points throughout the pandemic, will be submitting its application by the Aug. 16 deadline.

“Though we’ve had some good news recently, there is still a need,” Moore said. “We’re not out of this completely yet. We’ve stated previously, even going back to 2020, that it would take us getting through another San Diego County Fair to be set on a really solid course.”