The hour before the opening of the San Diego County Fair, on the I-5 exiting southbound at Via de la Valle, traffic was light. But by the time the gates opened at 4:00 p.m. on June 5, a large crowd was awaiting entrance.
First hour at the fair
Linda Zweig, spokesperson for the fair, said the unusual start time of 4:00 p.m. — starting a half-day earlier than previous years — was done to give people a chance to not have to fight the traditional Saturday-morning opening-day traffic. Approximately 28,000 people took advantage of the early opening.
Margaret Austin of Escondido repeated her fair appearance. This is her 30th year of being the first person in line. This year she received a complimentary ticket into the fair.
During the first hour of the fair, Bill and Michelle ran to Bob’s Cob stand for their barbecued corn of the cob. Bob’s stand is the first food stand when one enters the fair. He definitely has the best corn, and they’re about 25 cents cheaper than other stands. Bob estimated he’d sell 50,000 cobs this year.
Across the midway, the most popular of food booths, Chicken Charlie’s, Juian of Paradise Hills was the first to place his order. He chose the deep-fried frog legs, rather than the new-this-year deep-fried Slimfast bars and deep-fried pickles stuffed with peanut butter. Chicken Charlie said he would go through 5000 gallons of frying oil this fair season.
Vista’s Yakubsin family of five was the first to partake of Dixie’s Mini Donuts in Bing Crosby Hall. This is Dixie Moore’s 23rd year at the booth. She expects to sell close to 200,000 mini-donuts. The Yakubsins bought the first two dozen.
After 45 minutes, Rick, Barbara, and Tom, from Clairemont, sat down to enjoy a beer at the newly renamed Bing’s Bar (after racetrack co-founder Bing Crosby). The group gets together each year for opening day. This year Rick had an entry in the wine-making contest, which was to be judged later that evening.
Diane and her husband, from Serra Mesa, didn’t make it very far before stopping at the Footsie Wootsie foot-massage machines. In anticipation, Diane brought a coin purse full of quarters.
Inside the fair theme’s exhibit building, “It All Started At A Fair” highlighted the 100th anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park, in addition to other historic fairs. In the center of the building, on a rotating platform, was a stock 1965 Mustang, purchased after a California family saw Ford’s preview of the car at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. They paid $3378 for the fully loaded model.
Over at Lost and Found, someone had already lost a Madonna medallion and a cell phone. Manager Kevin said in his 15 years working Lost and Found, the most unusual thing they’ve found was a set of false teeth.
The fourth largest fair in North America runs until July 5 (closed each Monday and Tuesday, June 16).