Thursday, June 25, 2009

no fair

During this part of summer in San Diego, no one asks "which fair?" It's just The Fair.

In 1880, a group of San Diegans organized an agricultural fair to bring county farmers together to share ideas, see who had the best citrus fruit, who baked the best pie, and who had the fastest horse. After that first fair, the county fair was held annually with a few exceptions in various county locations until 1936, when it moved to its present Del Mar home.

In 1947, the fair boasted an average attendance of 23,429 people each day. By 2008, that daily average had skyrocketed to 58,843. That’s a lot of peeps. Too many peeps for me.

One of my co-workers says that she loves the fair because she used to do the whole 4-H thing as a girl:

A county fair without animals just wouldn't be the same. You can see baby animals, farm equipment, animal shows and of course, the ever-popular Junior Livestock Auction, where San Diego County's young people auction the animals they have hand-raised during the past year.

That sounds nice, doesn't it? It summons images of Fern and the Zuckermans, country kisses and dutch apple pie.

Is this the same fair?

Food is one of the main reasons people visit the San Diego County Fair. Not only do we have the traditional "Fair fare," but we also offer some surprising upscale dining and sipping experiences.

What will be the gotta-eat-it food of the 2009 Fair?

Among the items listed as New Food this year: Deep-Fried Bread Pudding, Deep Fried Green Beans, Zucchini Weeni (hot dog inside a zucchini, then deep-fried in a special batter), Deep Fried S'mores, Zucchini Fries, Oatmeal Cookie Chicken Sandwich, Deep Fried Cheese Curds, Deep Fried Mexican Ice Cream, Chocolate Covered Bacon Strips.

Oh my, that IS surprisingly upscale!

My kids are going to the fair this Friday on a school trip, and my poor husband has been roped into chaperoning. At school, the kids have each been involved in planting things to enter in an agriculture contest; they have big plans to join the pie eating contest and hopefully catch a race featuring turkeys, pigs, wiener dogs (presumably not wrapped in zucchini), or hamsters. It will be a good, old fashioned kind of day at the fair.

However, once the school bus hauls off those poor, sad suckers without chaperones, my kids will hightail it out of the wholesome sector and straight into the sweaty, tattooed arms of the carnies. To the so-called fun zone. I hope they have time to knock over a bank on the way there:

Most rides require 3-6 coupons. On certain rides and attractions, the rider pays directly. At the Fair ride coupon booths, you can buy the following: Single ride coupon, 75 cents; 14 coupons, $10.00; 30 coupons, $20.00; 77 coupons, $50.00.

I recently made a shocking admission on facebook, one that I suspected would be met with repugnance and ridicule:

“Am I the only person on this earth who loathes the county fair? All those people, all that grease - give me the beach any day. I am, however, a fan of the carnies.”

But I don't call them my peeps for nothing:

Kendra said -“I’m a closet fair hater!”

Keith agreed - “I'm with you...I HATE the fair! Traffic, MONEY, horrid-sickening food...I boycott it and loathe it!”

Rita stipulated - “I like small fairs, the little town ones. Not a big fan of the big fairs though.”

Mary Ann asked - “They still have county fairs?”

Ellie said - “Aw, thanks Jacquie. I appreciate your vote for my kind.”

Johanna lamented - “hate it-the heat, the lines, the $...”

Of course, a few weirdos fair affectionados eventually came out of the woodwork:

Mary countered - "I LOVE the Fair!!!!!!!!!!! Apparantly (I love) everything you all hate! Hilarious people-watching, any kind of food-on-a-stick, rides you hope won't come apart while you're on them, carny's...what's not to love!?"

Bridget echoed - "I LOVE the fair! So much grease, heat, wacky gizmos, creepy people, shaky rides, grease, animals, $10.00 hot dogs, corn on a stick, funnel cakes, and more grease!!! What could be better?"

Amy simply said - "fried s'mores"

Mary, Bridget, and Amy -I hope you and the other 65,000 fans of the fair enjoy it this year, and for many years to come. If you're looking for me, I'll be the one enjoying the extra space at the beach!


Rita said...

That does look a lot like our State Fair, which we went to once and never again. Too many crowds, too many lines, too expensive.

We have town fairs here, then we have the county fair (which I've never been to) and then the State Fair (which, as I've said, we've been to once).

We usually go to our town fair every year at the end of August. My kids are always in the parade for taekwondo (and last year and this year, Katie will be in it for the royalty stuff), and we know everyone there, so it's fun. Last weekend, we went to a neighboring town fair (cause Katie was with our royalty and our friend was with their royalty and I knew Liz would have fun)--and yeah, we spent $60. We spent $50 on rides for Liz (that was the smallest combo pack) and the rest on food and beverages, and we bought cheaply. It is an expensive outing.

But... you gotta try the cheese curds. That's a native Minnesota/Wisconsin food. They're a really big deal here. I know they sound gross, but they're (deep fried! of course!) chunks of cheddar cheese, kind of like mozzarella sticks, but different. Try them just because they are a regional thing from a region so far from you, not because they sound necessarily good, lol.

Rita said...

No, we spent $50! $25 on rides and the rest on food. I am still groggy.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

HATE it. It's like being at Walmart but outside with rides, games, and pay parking.

I almost got talked into going last year for the brewing competition, but even first-place home brews aren't enough to do it.

My girls have a dance performance at the fair tomorrow (11 AM -- too bad your kids will be too wholesome to see it); luckily their father will be taking them.


missing Del Mar said...

remember ladies...HATE is on the bad word list
Where else can you see Cheap Trick with your entrance fee? That would be the 1992(?) Fair at the Del Mar fairgrounds :) and no, I am too cheap to part with $$ for all the other crap.
This August I will guest blog the oldest tent Fair in the country, as it happens to be the Grange Fair, right here in Centre County.
I guarantee it will blow your mind and you will think I'm making half of it up (hence the photos as evidence)
This 100+ year old event even dictates when we start school!
Until then...
enjoy all the fried items that only come but once a year at the Fair.
and Beth...didn't you work at one of the Maryland State Fair food booths??

Pat said...

I love the NY State is a big time event here in Upstate. Of course my favorite parts are the lobster rolls, the wine tent, the beer tent, the bluegrass feature and, in deference to my dear friend, Stan, the cow tent--where the really COOL guys hang out.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

HATE, I say, HATE, do you hear me missing Del Mar? And no, I don't think I ever worked at any Maryland State Fair booths, although I know I used to think some of the young carnies were cute.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I might try the NY state fair, wine tent with lobster rolls sounds much better than deep fried anything!


Me, You, or Ellie said...

I still say the carnies are the best part. My tattooed, pony-tailed, butt-smoking, gap-toothed brethren. Well, I only worked once at a San Diego pumpkin patch with rides for wee toddlers, but still [chest thump] -- I feel the connection.


never tasted a deep fried oreo in PA said...

I sense a certain someone who's on bed rest is a bit grumpy :)

I do know that Kelly York worked the corn dog stand and Tad had a job somewhere but I guess Beth wasn't loitering at the race track for the State Fair.

I can't wait to see what you think of the Grange Fair...

Tami said...

I recall loving the Danbury Fair but dislike fairs in general....that goes for the Oyster Festival too.

Anonymous said...

Soooo many great deep fried goodies how could you not love going to the fair! :O)
Have a nice day,

Logical Libby said...

Next time you go the fair play the game "rocker couple or lesbian couple." You find a couple with mullets, and decide, from the back only, which kind they are. And if you get a rocker lesbian couple then you automatically win.