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Dear Matt:

Whatever happened to the "Fairest of the Fair" at the San Diego County Fair or Del Mar Fair?

-- Bob, via e-mail

Hey, you're right. Haven't seen her around lately, but never missed her till you said something. The Fairest (a.k.a. "Miss San Diego County"), traditional spokesqueen for the old Del Mar Fair, was a big deal every year since the '30s. If she survived all the later pageants, the winner had a chance to become Miss Universe or Miss Galaxy or Miss Crab Nebula or something like that. And she was always escorted by mariachi-suited "Don Diego" (Tommy Hernandez), local actor and the fair's goodwill ambassador for decades. He died in 1984, but when did she bite the dust? The "beauty" pageant was probably doomed before this, but in 2003 and 2004, there was some dispute over the rules and a big whoop-de-doo about who the real FotF was. They got that one straightened out behind the scenes with no hair-pulling or attempted stranglings with sashes. But some of the glitter was gone from the tiara. This was about the time that the fair administration and name changed, so I guess it was seen as a good chance to hustle her majesty off the stage too. It reportedly cost $85,000 a year to host the shindig anyway. One of the Fairest's main tasks was to appear on radio, TV, supermarkets, etc., as official good-looking fair promoter. A major PR function. In this modern world of spin control, how can public relations ever be left to the whims of a high school senior with puffy hair? The fair's PR function was reassigned to trained marketing people hired as interns each year. There's been no adequate substitute for the cheesecake factor.

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