The gates to the San Diego County Fair officially opened at 4:00 p.m. on June 1. And just like the last 30 years, Margaret Austin of Escondido was first in line.
“I woke up at 2:00, caught the bus at 5:30, and was in line by 7:00,” said Austin, just before the gates opened. “I was the only one here for hours.” Austin was heading to the garden show, and then to see “my piggies” at the Swifty Swine Pig Races.
The cardiac-arrest Chicken Charlie’s seems to set the bar for fried fair food. Along with offerings of deep fried Fillet Mignon, and a Cotton Candy Ice Cream Sandwich, the stand added chocolate pasta.
The Bautista family from Bonita, 42 minutes after the fair opened, was the first to order the chocolate pasta. When asked what she thought of her first taste, Mrs. Bautista, after a long, poignant pause, said, “It's... chocolate pasta.”
Bill and Marci from Bay Park were the first to stop at Bob’s Cobb on the Midway. “We try to be the first every year, but missed it the last two years.” Bob, the 45-year stand owner, came out from the kitchen to honor his first customers. His BBQ Corn on the Cobb will cost $4.60 this year.
“My mother’s rolling over in her grave,” said Ted Platis, owner of The Mediterranean food stand, started by his parents. Ted’s been working the fair booth since 1973. He was referring to this year’s addition of a bacon wrap on what was his hand-made, traditional Greek baklava.
The newest addition to this year’s fair is the Speakeasy, on top of the grandstand; it offers adult beverages and small-plate food.
One has to be "invited” up to the tropical Cocoa Cabana with a secret password. Here’s a hint. One’s journey will begin in the Theme Building. Go to the bar, and ask for a boarding pass.
A guide will “fly” one through a maze of halls, tunnels, and elevators. The Speakeasy is only open Thursday through Saturday nights, and customers will be rotated out every 45 minutes.
The San Diego County Fair (locals still call it the Del Mar Fair) runs through July 4, but dark on Mondays and Tuesdays except for July 2 and 3.