AutoMatters: Flower Power, Fireworks & Music at the Fair


By Jan Wagner

The British are coming! The British are coming! The British were here – in a VW Beetle? I’ll explain shortly.

For 24 days beginning in June and ending shortly after the Fourth of July, the San Diego County Fair was in town. As you may know, a couple of columns ago (in AutoMatters # 338) the Fair had terrific action-packed motorsports, car shows and more. I wanted to return one more time – on the Fourth of July, to see what I missed the first time around and to enjoy the holiday fireworks show.

The theme this year was “The Fab Fair.” All around the Fairgrounds were exhibits, performances and more to celebrate the 50


anniversary of the British Invasion – an invasion of British pop culture and music.

As always, I was on the lookout for things that were automotive – perhaps some British sports cars or a London taxi. Instead, in the parking lot, I saw double-decker buses arriving with loads of Fairgoers. That’s British.

Something else caught my eye in the parking lot. It was a bright yellow Smart car, but it was not the car itself that drew my attention and that of other passers-by. On the dashboard of that car was the largest collection of assorted junk and trash that I think I’ve ever seen on the dashboard of a car that had just been driven. It was totally covered in the stuff. There was at least one cap, the car’s owner’s manual, a brochure, a scrunched-up Domino’s Pizza package, a stuffed animal, a doll, a plastic pill bottle, used napkins, a plastic case and lots more. It was such an unbelievable sight that I felt compelled to take a picture of it. Talk about a safety hazard – that stuff could end up wedged on or under the gas pedal or the brake if the driver had to swerve or perform other evasive emergency maneuvers. Not cool.

If you have any similarly crazy car pictures, I’d sure like to see them. Please send them to me at

Inside the Fairgrounds, and looking as if it had been parked in a strawberry field forever (there I go again with a British reference) after being driven to a ’60s music festival and then forgotten about for 50 years, was a flower power VW Beetle. Adorning the side of that automotive relic of a bygone era was a rendering of The Beatles covered by a rainbow, and alongside an iconic peace symbol. I had showed up as the sun was setting, so the nearby cymbal from a band’s old drum set appropriately cast its long shadow over The Beatles.

One of my annual traditions at the Fair is attending the daily afternoon wine tasting in the infield’s San Diego Pavilion. KYXY’s Sam Bass hosts them. Each year I join others to wait in line for one of the limited numbered tickets that is required

in order to sample four wines from our nearby vineyards. Afterwards we get to keep a souvenir wine glass, on which is imprinted that year’s Fair logo. My collection of these wine glasses has been building for several years. Their logos serve as nice reminders of past Fairs – and wine tastings. I highly recommend doing this.

In years past I’d watched the Fair’s Fourth of July fireworks show from a neighborhood overlooking the

Fairgrounds from the other side of the I-5 freeway. I used to live in that neighborhood, so it was a family tradition to walk up to the edge of the neighborhood, set up lawn chairs and enjoy the show. Unfortunately, the fireworks were quite far away. Some years we could only see the very beginning of the show before wind blew the smoke our way and spoiled our view.

This year I had a much better vantage point to take pictures of the fireworks. I was high atop the main grandstand.

“America” entertained a packed, standing-room crowd with a wonderful concert. That was free with Fair admission.

After the Fair ended, I returned to retrieve my tribute to 50 Years of Ford’s Mustang. It was a collection of mostly 1:18


scale diecast Mustangs, as well as assorted memorabilia. This year I actually won something – an Honorable Mention ribbon. I’m already looking forward to next year’s San Diego County Fair. I hope that you can join me.

As always, please write to with your comments and suggestions.

Copyright © 2014 by Jan Wagner –