Visiting the San Diego County Fair is always fun — an exception being Friday night, July 1, when my family and I were leaving the fairgrounds.
As our van was parked up on Via de la Valle, my wife and two sons left me at the pick-up area of the “Solana” gate. We had waited until our last night at the fair to purchase some heavy merchandise from a booth.
Since I knew it would be awhile before they could return to pick me up, I walked across the entrance gate road to a green, 12-step steel ladder, a platform used by track officials during horse races. I had climbed five steps up when a man at the gate, about 50 feet away, shined a flashlight on me and started yelling at me to get down.
I quickly came back down and walked back to the pick-up area. He followed me across the road and yelled, “What made you think you could climb that ladder?” I pointed out that there was no chain across the ladder, and I had always wanted to see what the view of the track was like from the platform. He ordered me to leave the fair, “Now!”
At that moment, my wife arrived in our van. I was loading our stuff into the back when the guard approached the van and continued to yell at me to leave. After politely telling him I was leaving, I asked him to stop his rampage in front of my children. The man was wearing a white polo shirt with the imprinted badge of the 22nd Agricultural District, owners of the fairgrounds.
He got on his radio and requested backup, giving a complete description of me and the van. As I climbed into the van to leave, he stood in front of us, purposefully blocking our exit. I got out and requested he move so we could leave. He said he was calling someone to have me arrested. As I turned to walk back to the van, my wife said he raised his long flashlight above his head as if ready to strike me on the back; although he didn't, my wife and one of my sons began dialing 911.
The 911 dispatcher immediately forwarded my wife's call to the onsite sheriff's office. As my wife was explaining the ongoing incident for about two minutes, a marked security vehicle arrived on a side street, and the security guard walked away.
As we were driving away, the sheriff's dispatcher wanted to hear my account of the situation and asked if we needed a deputy to come to the scene. By that time, we were already on Coast Highway 101, heading home. The dispatcher said she appreciated that we understood that all fair workers are tired and overworked by the end of the fair.