By Debbie Anderson


Can you believe that summer has arrived? One of our region’s largest events, the San Diego County Fair, is here. Below is what you can expect at this year’s fair in regard to concerts, new attractions, fair dates and more.

A Quick History of the San Diego County Fair

Did you know that the San Diego County Fair dates back to 1880? Back then, the event was dedicated to agriculture where San Diegans could share the best fruit, the best pies and even see who had the fastest horse. The fair was held in various locations annually (with a suspension during World War II) after that until 1936 when it moved to its present location in Del Mar.

The San Diego County Fair is the largest event in the county and one of the top 10 fairs in the United States and Canada, drawing over 1.4 million people each year.

The 2017 Theme Is…

Drum roll, please. The theme for the 2017 San Diego County Fair, presented by Albertsons|VONS is “Where the West is Fun.” As you might guess, the Western theme will be featured throughout the fair, focusing on the culture of the region from the 1880s and merging it with pop culture elements. As fair officials point out, the story begins “at the beginning with the Original People of this western land, their lifestyle, preserved lands and culture which also will be exhibited in various ways throughout the Fair.”

Underscoring the theme will be featured country music, a rodeo, Fiesta del Charro, a frontier town and a themed exhibit with a saloon, art and history displays.

As always, the fair will also mean music at the grandstand stage, fair food, exhibits by children and hobbyists, and California agriculture displays.

Grandstand Concert Line-Up

Music this year includes the Toyota Summer Concert Series on the Heineken Grandstand Stage with a wide variety of performers appearing in paid and free concerts. Look for music legends such as Toby Keith, Patti LaBelle, Peter Cetera and Roberto Tapia and many more.

Other Concerts

Four other concert series, free with fair admission include The Paddock Concert Series with 10 nights of music, including the Yardbirds and John Michael Montgomery; Solid Gold Concerts with Thursday afternoon oldies acts on the Showcase Stage; Coors Light Rock On Stage that includes Belly Up-sponsored Thursday evenings; and Acoustic Showcase, which starts at 11AM in the Paddock on Saturday, July 1.

There are many other stages on the fairgrounds featuring local music, dancing, magic, and comedy performed by San Diego locals.

Special Attractions

This year, the fair will host several festivals for attendees free with admission. These special events will include:

Asian Festival: Saturday, June 3, at the Paddock. A celebration of Asian & Pacific Islander cultures, representing China, India, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Hawaii, Polynesia, and Vietnam. Featuring traditional and popular entertainment, martial arts, food, and local non-profit organizations.

New this year: An Asian art exhibit at 17 Hands Restaurant & Bar, and Sake flights at the Paddock Tavern.

Gospel Festival: Saturday, June 24, brings gospel music to many stages throughout the fairgrounds all day, ending with a Grandstand concert featuring Hezekiah Walker & Tasha Cobbs.

Mariachi Festival: on Sunday, June 11, at the Fiesta Stage, there will be a full afternoon of authentic Mariachi and Folkloric Dance groups from San Diego and Baja California.

New this year: Tequila sampling and a piñata striking session for the public. The “Fiesta del Charro” will be in the Del Mar Arena and Roberto Tapia will perform Mexican regional music, rounding out the day’s festivities on the Grandstand stage that day.

Out at the Fair: Saturday, June 10, at the Paddock and Coors Light Rock On Stage. A full day of family-friendly entertainment and activities celebrating the LGBTQ community, including Diva Drop, Dunk a Hunk, the Newly Married Game, musical performances, and female impersonators, featuring Simply Barbra.

New this year: An Art Exhibit celebrating LGBTQ culture will be displayed in the 17 Hands Restaurant Bar.

Whole Life Festival: Saturday, July 1, brings the Whole Life Festival to the Paul Ecke Jr. Garden Show area, presented by Think Blue, featuring healthful and upbeat lifestyle choices for natural living. There will be demonstrations, lectures, authors and organic growers all sharing their ideas about health and well-being.

More New This Year

The new “Journey to the Winners Circle” exhibit will debut this year and celebrate the pageantry, traditions, and history of horse racing at the Del Mar Race Track.

Next to the entrance to the Student Showcase exhibit, will be another new exhibit, the Awareness Gallery, a three-dimensional display focusing on teen life and all of the trials and tribulations it brings. It is an interactive experience meant for people of all ages.

Also new this year is the Gold Medal Beer Dinner, limited to 100 guests, which will provide a gourmet dinner, pairing courses with this year’s finest medal beers. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time at and include a sneak peek of the San Diego International Beer Festival, which starts the next day.

Food, Drink and Fun

Get your elastic waistbands lined up for the deep-fried Oreos and other specialty (and crazy) fried foods beloved by fairgoers. Don’t forget the roasted corn on the cob! If you’re not into the grease, there are also gourmet foods and beverages found throughout the fairgrounds and at special events held within the Fair.

The medal-winning wine and beers served at the featured VIP events and other events at the fair are from some of the Fair’s competitions, including The Toast of the Coast Wine Competition, which draws entrants from throughout the United States and Mexico. Taste the award winning wines at the Paul Ecke Jr. Garden Show, held on Saturday, June 10, in two sessions between noon – 7 p.m. Tickets include Fair admission and can be purchased at

The San Diego International Beer Competition also draws entrants from throughout the world and is placed among the top 10 of beer competitions nationally. Within the Fair is the three-day San Diego International Beer Festival, from June 16-18 in the Del Mar Arena, featuring five sessions for beer lovers. Tickets include Fair admission and can be purchased at

Also planned is Distilled: Spirit & Cocktail Competition & Festival, featuring personally-crafted distilled spirits. The competition received nearly 200 entries from distilleries around the globe and will share their spirits from 1-5 p.m., June 24, in the Paddock, capturing the best of the best in whiskey, tequila, vodka, gin and other spirits. Tickets include Fair admission and can be purchased at

Rides and games are among the main traditions of the County Fair. With nearly 100 rides and as many games, this is the region of the Fair where most young people want to hang out. Tickets for rides can be purchased several ways: Pay One Price at $38 provides the wristband holder unlimited rides from noon until 8PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays, June 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, and 22. Ticket packages of 28 coupons for $20 and 12 coupons for $9 also are sold at the Fun Zone Ticket Booths whenever the Fun Zone is open.

2017 San Diego County Fair Dates and Admission

The fair opens at 4PM on Friday, June 2 and runs through Tuesday, July 4; it is closed the first four Mondays and the first three Tuesdays.

Ticket prices are $11 for seniors and kids, and $18 for fairgoers ages 13-61.

For more information visit

Passport To Savings

Passport To Savings is a coupon book full of great savings opportunities. This little green book includes super savings inside the San Diego County Fair on food, games, rides and products; and savings outside the fair at restaurants, theme parks and shops in San Diego County and throughout Southern California.

Every book includes a free return ticket to the Fair and an opportunity to Spin To Win for great prizes at the Passport To Savings booths at the Fair.

Tip: Buy Passport To Savings online and save 20 percent.



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