San Diego County Fair

Theme Exhibit

"Mad About The Fair"

Each year, the Fair presents a museum-quality Theme Exhibit, with amazing exhibits and interactive, educational fun.

This is information from the 2016 San Diego County Fair.

Please check back next spring, when we will have information on the Theme Exhibit for the 2017 Fair!



Curiouser and curiouser at every turn is the 2016 "Mad About the Fair" theme exhibit – a steampunk twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. The exhibit is a retro-futurist vision of Alice and her friends as she learns to understand the rules of life on her own terms, not those of others.

"Oh dear! Oh dear!
I shall be late."

– the White Rabbit
White Rabbit


It all begins here

Venture through the rabbit hole to a choice of doors that lead to Wonderland. Whether big or small, find the ever-curious, yet always wise, Caterpillar before heading to a Steampunk Tea Party with Hatter as the host.

The Hatter's tea party is fit for a queen, but certainly not the Queen of Hearts, as she is off yelling orders, playing games and honoring us with her presence for the perfect selfie. It's "off with your head" if you are not careful!

"Come, we shall have some fun now!"
– Alice's first thought when she arrived at the tea party.

Alice wonders "who in the world am I," which is a great puzzle, as she starts out as a pawn and with the help of others gains knowledge and wisdom to eventually become the Queen. Alice will share stories from Wonderland along the way, and her friends will present you with riddles and puzzles to solve if you can.

Other attractions of the "Mad About The Fair" theme exhibit:

smbullet Compliments of USC Libraries, view a first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, first published over 150 years ago. You will also see pop-up books, manuscripts and more that have embedded in our culture Alice, the Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Cheshire Cat and other delightful creatures from Lewis Carroll's books.

smbullet Find out what it is like to lose your "muchness" with a photo opportunity with the Hatter's larger-than-life hat.

smbullet Visit Steampunk Corner with retro-futuristic, cos-play-inspired teetotalers.

smbullet Stop by "Grace Slick's Mad Tea Party." It's an exhibition of original artwork based on Alice in Wonderland by Grace Slick, the lead singer for the rock bands Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. Slick wrote and performed the classic song, "White Rabbit," about Alice's adventures with the Wonderland characters. Much of the artwork will be for sale, or you can buy a special commemorative poster.

smbullet Have a tea duel and learn tea manners along with assorted guests of the tea party.

smbullet Don't miss the nightly Hatter's Mad Party at 7:00PM. It's a dance party not to be ignored, with music for everyone, plenty of room to dance and the Drink Me bar mixing up special concoctions to enhance the experience, if you so desire.


"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

– the Cheshire Cat, when Alice asked it which way to go
Cheshire Cat


So. . .

Paint the roses red! Mind your own business! Experience the uncommon nonsense of puzzling changes! And imagine six impossible things before breakfast at the "Mad About the Fair" theme exhibit!


Theme Exhibit Event Schedule

Date Time Event
Daily 11:00AM UnBirthday Party – celebrate the 364 days it is NOT your birthday!
Daily 11:00AM and 3:00PM House of Cards – experience a moving House of Cards
Daily Noon and 3:30PM Animated Pictures – Join Alice and friends in this live photo op!
Daily 12:30PM Story Time Adventures– Join Alice and friends as they read an excerpt from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Daily except Saturdays and July 4 5:00PM Story Time Adventures– Join Alice and friends as they read an excerpt from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Daily 1:00PM Tea Manners– Alice and friends will teach you proper tea manners so you can join the Hatter's Tea Party.
Daily 3:30PM Queen of Hearts Happening – The Queen of Hearts will honor us with her presence, and if she is in a good mood, you may be able to take your photo with her.
Daily, except June 10, 17, 24 and July 1 7:00PM Hatter's Mad DJ Party – Join the Hatter as he hosts a nightly dance party for guests of all ages.
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 2:00PM Troubadours– Experience Troubadour moments fit for a tea party!.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 2:30PM Paint The Roses Red– Help the Cards paint the roses red before the Queen of Hearts notices!
Saturdays and Sundays 2:30PM Tea Dueling– The Magnificent Madam Askew and her Temporal Entourage will teach you the basics of Tea Dueling: How to hold your biscuit, how long to dunk your biscuit, and most importantly, how to cleanly "nom" your biscuit without dripping tea or dropping biscuit fragments into the cup!
Saturdays 5:00PM Steampunk 101: Hosted by Lady Amethyst – This presentation will dive into the imaginary world of Steampunk – what it is, what it looks like and how it came to be.