By Diane Y. Welch
It’s “Game On!” for the anticipated opening of the San Diego County Fair, announced CEO and General Manager Tim Fennell. “Are you ready?” he asked at last week’s preview news conference.
Loved for all things fun, deep-fried and festive, the fair’s 24-day run is packed with entertainment, events and exhibitions for the entire family and opens June 8 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
The 2013 season’s theme is centered on games spotlighting nostalgic board games and card games, along with the evolution of games through to the high-tech video games of today, said Finnell.
There are plenty of attractions and exhibits, games galore, and, of course, new fair fare including Chicken Charlie’s deep fried cookie dough; Temecula wine country grilled cheese sandwiches; Krispy Creme Sloppy Joes; lobster sliders and nachos; wild boar bacon kabobs; and bacon cotton candy.
For bacon lovers, the smokey rashers will take center stage this year on Father’s Day, June 16, with the Big Bite Bacon Fest in the Del Mar Arena where you can eat bacon “’til the cows come home,” Finnell said.
This “bacon paradise” will showcase unlimited samples of bacon cuisine from county-area chefs, restaurants and competitive cooks. To help the bacony goodness go down, craft beer from some of the top breweries in San Diego will provide the perfect pairing.
From June 21-23, the seventh annual San Diego International Beer Festival, featuring more than 150 breweries and 350 beers from around the world, will take place.
The San Diego County Wine Festival will take place on Saturday, June 15, with over 100 award-winning California wines to sip and savor.
Other attractions include the “Game On!” theme exhibit with interactive games for all ages; Enviro Fair, which will feature live cooking demonstrations and samplings of organically grown produce from county farmers; Star Trek the Exhibition; Robotics Extravaganza, where area students will compete with their original robot creations; My Big Fair Wedding; San Diego Food Bank Drive; and “The Courage to Remember” the Holocaust, 1933-1945 — a photographic exhibition that memorializes the Holocaust; Butterfly Odyssey that illustrates the butterfly’s life cycle; and more.
Grandstand Stage live musical entertainment includes Adam Lambert, Steve Miller Band, The Beach Boys, Train, Bad Company, Switchfoot, and REO Speedwagon; The Paddock Stage will feature David Cassidy, John Waite, and The Motels; and The Showcase Stage will offer Chubby Checker, the Osmond Brothers and more.
Special ways to save on transportation include the $15 Fair Tripper ticket good for the North County Transit District’s COASTER, SPRINTER and BREEZE and includes fair admission.
There’s free off-site parking at the Horsepark Equestrian Center each day and on weekends at Mira Costa College’s San Elijo campus and Torrey Pines High School. Free shuttles transport fairgoers direct to the fair. Onsite parking is $10.
Not-to-be-missed are the long-time favorite exhibitions: The Paul Ecke Jr. Flower and Garden Show; Livestock and Small Animals Show; Fine Art Show; Gems, Minerals and Jewelry; and much more. A new attraction is the Giant Games in the Infield.
There are big savings on admission this year with The Best Pass Ever. For $24 — with a $336 value — visitors may attend the fair every day. On Tuesdays, fair admission is $4 and kids under 12 are admitted free; and entry is free if you are a participant in a contest.
The “Game On!” theme invites, “everyone young and old to have the time of their lives.” Finnell said he expects that this year’s attendance will equal or top last year’s gate figures.
The San Diego County Fair runs June 8 - July 4 (closed Mondays except July 1) and is the largest annual event in San Diego County and the fourth-largest fair in North America, drawing more than 1.5 million visitors annually.
for more detailed information on concerts, the July 4 line-up and special events, and how to get discounts on admission, food and rides.
Del Mar Fairgrounds’ location: 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Del Mar, 92014; 858-755-1161.