Alice and friends to star at next year’s county fair in Del Mar

Expect tea parties, croquet games, the Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts and white rabbits to be found at next year’s San Diego County Fair.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the board that oversees the Del Mar fairgrounds unanimously approved an Alice in Wonderland theme — “Mad About the Fair” — for the 2016 edition of the San Diego County Fair.

The theme promises “a weird, wacky and whimsical experience” for all ages, but is especially targeted at younger generations such as Millennials — born in the ’80s — and Gen-Zers, born from the mid- to late-’90s, said Katie Mueller, the fair’s exhibits manager.

The theme will also include a nod to “steampunk,” an artistic movement that embraces fantasy and science fiction, as well as technology and designs inspired by 19th Century steam-powered industrial machinery, said Mueller.

“It is unique, it is different,” said Frederick Schenk, president of the 22nd District Agricultural Association board. “I think this theme would attract a lot of attention and create a lot of positive buzz.”

The board also approved dates for the 2016 fair, which will open at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 3, and close on Monday, July 4. The 25½-day schedule is one day longer than the run of the 2015 fair, which ended in July. The fair will be closed on Mondays except for July 4, and on the first two Tuesdays, said a fair spokeswoman.