a day at the san diego county fair, part 1

by Stacy

One of our goals since moving to California is to be good tourists and take advantage of unique local opportunities. Another goal is to wear sunscreen on these adventures. Sigh. We’re getting better at both.

Some other local adventuring posts which make me realize how few I’ve posted:

We’ve been doing our best though, and our latest adventure was going to the San Diego County Fair. I must admit, we’re a bit spoiled in that the Minnesota State Fair is our standard, and that’s a pretty high bar. This is also a county fair, not a state fair. Even so, it was a good excursion and I tried to take some representative photos.

san diego county fair

The theme this year is “Taste the Fun!” We went to Albertson’s grocery store (the fair’s sponsor) and spent $10 on groceries so we could buy $3 tickets instead of $13 tickets for that Tuesday. Another incentive to go early in the week is Tuesday’s “taste of the fair” sample portions at many food stalls where you can get smaller snacks for $2 each.

half a cinnamon roll

It’s hard to pass up the smell of a cinnamon roll, especially after a disappointing tray of $4 french fries. This half roll would have been $2 plain, but the intrepid teen working the register managed to upsell us a giant dollop of too-sweet, too-cold cream cheese frosting. Lesson learned. We each had a few bites and were content with the small portion. In retrospect we might have been happier with mini donuts.

mini artichoke

It seemed wrong to pass up an artichoke opportunity, so my $2 went toward this garlic-battered mini artichoke with some type of ranch-esque sauce. I’m glad it wasn’t any bigger since this definitely fulfilled by grease quota for the foreseeable future. My thistle-hating spouse magnanimously declined the bite I offered him.

The fairway isn’t exactly what we’re used to seeing in Minnesota. Here are some photos of unfamiliar fair sights for me.

san diego county fair

san diego county fair

san diego county fair

san diego county fair

In lieu of the ubiquitous paper pig ears, San Diegans sport Chiquita banana crowns (the majority of bananas in the US enter the country through the port of San Diego). Sadly I did not get any photos, or my own crown. Some things are the same at any fair, however. The fine arts and photography exhibits were fun, if lacking in seed art. The people watching was fantastic and I wish I were more brave about taking stealthy photos so you could share in our amazement and wonder.

san diego county fair

We accidentally wandered into the Tour of Tastes exhibit too late; the demos and contests were over for the day. Oops. It was the featured exhibit this year and we missed our chance. It had some interesting events, too, including cooking contests and demonstrations. Bummer.

There was no dairy building in sight, but they imported butter sculptors!

butter sculpture at the fair

Here they are working on a life-size butter version of a nice fair-going family. For non-Midwesterners, the Minnesota State Fair has a pageant for the rural dairy council royalty who compete to become Princess Kay of the Milky Way and have her likeness carved in butter. This must be a new feature for San Diego as people nearby were all very intrigued by the process, much to our amusement.

The garden exhibit was fantastic. As this was our first trip I’m not sure how it compares to other years, but with the boom in gardening (especially urban and container edibles) there was a really nice display. Here are a few of my favorite parts.

garden exhibits at the county fair

This vertical layout is watered at the top then lets excess water run down to use fewer resources and save space. Clever!

garden exhibits at the county fair garden exhibits at the county fair

Two more vertical arrangements for edibles.

garden exhibits at the county fair garden exhibits at the county fair

The signage around this display compared buying a pizza to “growing a pizza” at home!

garden exhibits at the county fair

Living wall! There were some amazing succulent displays, too. Are people sick of this trend yet, or is it still awesome? I sort of love them.

The garden display was one of the highlights for me. My other favorite part was seeing the livestock — in fact, I am devoting a whole separate post to the animals we saw. I hope you all like poultry. A lot. Also, I begin my investigation into the marketing campaign that claims happy cows come from California. We shall see.

“Fair traffic” is a problem no matter where you live, right?

on the way home

We were lucky to have smooth sailing on the way home. Random, I know, I just wanted to post this picture of our giant California freeway. I’ll find a recipe to type up to cleanse your palate before the chicken fiesta. Stay tuned.

What do you see at the fair?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly June 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

I know I’m always happier with mini donuts. Oh, and all the other stuff is cool too.


Stacy June 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm

We were trying to branch out. Now we know better.


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