If you live or have spent any time at all in San Diego County, chances are you’ve at least heard of the Del Mar Fairgrounds if not visited a few times. Located 20 miles north of downtown San Diego in beautiful Del Mar, this historic facility is home to fun activities all year long.
A Brief History of the Del Mar Fairgrounds
San Diego residents have been participating in “County Fairs” since 1880. Early fairs were agricultural gatherings but included such fun activities as horse racing and pie contests. The location of these annual celebrations moved from place to place yearly which lead to struggles for the sponsors.
In 1936, the 22nd District Agricultural Association bought land at the mouth of the San Dieguito River for a new San Diego County Fairgrounds to help promote successful venues. Thus was the beginning of the San Diego County Fair. The Fair was renamed the Del Mar Fair decades ago, and, while it returned to its original name in 2002, locals still refer to it as the Del Mar Fair.
Today’s fair offers displays of everything from livestock to fine jewelry. Of course, now there are the wild rides and quality concerts to draw just about every type of person who lives in Southern California. This year, even in a severe recession, a record 1,274,442 people visited the Del Mar CA fair making it not only one of the biggest in the nation but arguably one of the best!
Here Come the Ponies!
Courtesy Ewen and Donabel, Flickr
The Thoroughbred Club was later established in 1937 by major motion picture personalities Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien with corporate support by Paramount Studios. Crosby was at the gate on that first opening day to personally greet the fans. In 1938 Seabiscuit ran a historic race that was the first nationally broadcast on the radio right here in Del Mar CA. Early purses ran as high as $25,000. Today, the Pacific Classic pays a solid $1,000,000 to the owner of the winning horse. Traditions, such as “Hat Day” on opening day, prevail today much as they did during the Hollywood era in the 1940s. Del Mar racing season runs from mid July to mid September annually. And, after 7 weeks of excitement, the 2009 season will be drawing to a close tomorrow, with “Free and Easy Wednesday” on September 9th.
Fans can continue to bet on the ponies after the Del Mar race season closes in mid September at the Surfside Race Place.
What’s Happening at the Fairgrounds and Track Now
Today’s Del Mar Fairgrounds and Race Track are home to numerous events throughout the year, most of them family oriented. From bazaars to home expos to gun shows, you will find it at the fairgrounds.
The more prominent events are:
• The Del Mar National Horse Show in April
• The Del Mar Fair in June and July
• The Del Mar Races in July, August and September
• The Scream Zone in October
• The Holiday of Lights in December
There are many other fun and exciting events such as the San Diego Home and Garden Show and the Crossroads of the West Gun Show. No matter what your taste, you will find year round fun and entertainment at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack!