For the 28th consecutive year, Escondido’s Margaret Austin, known as the “Pink Pig Lady,” was the first to walk through the front gates at the opening of the San Diego County Fair on June 8. Though she'd taken the bus in previous years, on Saturday she took the Sprinter and Coaster trains. She arrived at the fairgrounds at around 7:10 a.m.
A number of news cameras recorded Austin’s 9:50 a.m. entrance. Fair regulars know Margaret as the one with the cart filled with pink pig memorabilia. She comes every day to see “my piggies” and the Swifty Swine pig races. “If I wasn’t here, there would be no fair, “ said Margaret.
This year, however, second in line for years, Debbie Capp and Diane Albone, both from El Cajon, arrived just before Margaret. “We stayed away until Margaret arrived about five minutes later," said Diane. “We couldn’t take that away from her.”
9:52 a.m. The Jackstraws played the fair’s first musical notes — the surf song “Pipeline” — at the entrance’s O’Brien stage. The local band has performed at the fair for the past 14 years.
9:55 a.m. Oliver from Carlsbad sold his first bag of kettle corn to Manny, visiting from Tucson. Oliver has owned his two Copper Kettle stands at the fair for 15 years.
9:58 a.m. Sergo & Christian from La Mesa were already worn out and sitting on the foot massager machine — the Footsie Wootsie, “still only 25 cents.”
10:05 a.m. Dolores and Ed were the first customers to order cinnamon rolls at the Country Fair Cinnamon Roll booth. They got theirs covered with frosting and nuts. Since starting out as fair-booth fare in 1978, the cinnamon-roll company has opened in numerous food courts in malls around the state.
10:09 a.m. Dena from Oceanside and her friend Amy from Pacific Beach were the first customers to bite into the warm, sugary goodness of Dixie’s Mini-donuts, located inside the Bing Crosby Hall.
10:20 a.m. Carnival workers, waiting for the official 11:00 a.m. start time for the rides to open, were grabbing a late breakfast at the (now not-so) secret Viv’s Café, a behind-the-rides stand that offers lower-cost food and drinks to workers.
10:36 a.m. Nellie from Carlsbad and her daughters Rachael and Victoria and their friends Kennedy and Andrea were the first to plop down five bucks for a game of chance — the Tub of Fun ball-toss game. Operator Mel has worked the booth for 16 years. Unfortunately, the Carlsbadians walked away empty-handed after each getting second and third chances to try their luck.
10:45 a.m. Inside the Tecate Lounge Beer Garden, the fair’s first beers were poured for Albie and Linda from La Mesa. “My watch says it's five o’clock,” Albie said.
10:52 a.m. First in line to buy the $35 “Pepsi Pay-One-Price” unlimited rides wristband were Rodrigo, Jessica, and their son Andy, from Vista.
Rounding out the first hour of the San Diego County Fair, the first performance was by Dance Scene dance studio, from El Cajon. An age-40+ group of women, known as Money in the Bank, performed to a hip-hop song.
I had a personal fair first: the first person to order from the NTM Seafood booth. Nothing says San Diego County Fair like fried clams and Mountain Dew at 10:55 a.m.
The fair runs through July 4, closed on Mondays except July 1.