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About Us

A Fair is Born

1880 Fair Premium Book
1880 San Diego County Fair Premium Book 
In 1880, a group of San Diegans organized an agricultural fair to bring county farmers together to share ideas, see who had the best citrus fruit, who baked the best pie, and who had the fastest horse.

A Summer Tradition

Two children enjoy cotton candy while riding the Ferris wheel at the 1947 San Diego County Fair
Carnival midway at the 1947 San Diego County Fair 
A great success, the Fair became an annual tradition and was held in various county locations–including National City and Balboa Park–until moving to its present home at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in 1936.

Since its beginnings in 1880, the Fair was suspended on two occasions–during World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agricultural Roots

Del Mar Fairgrounds in the 1930s
Del Mar Fairgrounds in the 1930s 
The Del Mar Fairgrounds and the San Diego County Fair are owned and operated by the the 22nd District Agricultural Association, a State of California agency operating under the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Interested in learning more about the 22nd DAA, it's governance and the events hosted year-round at the Del Mar Fairgrounds?

DEL MAR FAIRGROUNDS


Fair Themes

The San Diego County Fair began a tradition of annual themes starting in 1980, when the Fair celebrated 100 years. The themes were agricultural in nature until 1998, when the celebration of California's Sesquicentennial lent itself to a theme exhibit on the state's history.

The Fair has been known by three names during its history: The San Diego County Fair from 1880 to 1953 and from 2002 to present; as the Southern California Exposition and San Diego County Fair from 1954 to 1969; as the Southern California Exposition from 1970 to 1982; and as the Del Mar Fair from 1983 through 2001. These names are sometimes reflected in the theme.



Gallery of Fun!

2023 Get Out There! logo

2023 Get Out There!

Adventure awaits as happy campers are invited to “Get Out There!” and explore the great outdoors. Unplug and get s’more of what life has to offer ...summer camp has never been so much fun!
2022 Heroes, Reunite! logo

2022 Heroes, Reunite!

Embrace your inner hero and show off your super powers! Soar through the air on adrenaline-pumping carnival rides, strike a power pose with your favorite superheroes, taste your way through the Fair’s superfoods, and learn the science and history of being a superhero and meet real-life community heroes who put Clark Kent to shame.
2019 OZ-some! logo

2019 OZ-some!

This "OZ-some" celebration of L. Frank Baum's classic tale, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
2018 How Sweet it is! logo

2018 How Sweet it is!

Leave the ordinary world behind the minute you step into this magical sweet spot overflowing with opportunities to truly savor summer with the excitement of a wide-eyed kid in a candy store!
2017 Where the West is Fun logo

2017 Where the West is Fun

Bringing to life the Wild West and all of its fanfare, giving fairgoers the chance to become part of the Old West while learning about the historical evolution of the west.
2016 Mad About the Fair logo

2016 Mad About the Fair

A weird, wacky, and whimsical celebration of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."
2015 A Fair to Remember logo

2015 A Fair to Remember

Celebrating World’s Fairs and Balboa Park by commemorating the centennial anniversary of the 1915 Panama – California Exposition held in Balboa Park.
2014 The Fab Fair logo

2014 The Fab Fair

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the British Invasion– the music and culture that came to the U.S. in the early ‘60s, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks and the Who. Here comes the fun!
2013 Game On! logo

2013 Game On!

A spotlight on classic and nostalgic games as we celebrate "family game night" with board games, pinball, television, videos, and computers, and the technology that has enhanced gaming culture beyond our wildest dreams.
2012 Out of this World logo

2012 Out of this World

An exploration of outer space, both its serious side with exploration and observation of the universe, and its fun side, with space aliens and science fiction.
2011 Race to the Fair logo

2011 Race to the Fair

Southern Californian life revolves around cars. Our vehicles reflect our personalities, and get us where we want to go–like the Fair!
2010 Taste the Fun logo

2010 Taste the Fun

Let's celebrate food! Not only the "Fair's fare" like corn dogs and cotton candy, but also the food grown right here on San Diego's farms and the cuisine our region's fabulous chefs create!
2009 Music Mania logo

2009 Music Mania

From rock to country to big band to music from around the world, the Fair celebrates all types of music, as it's music that feeds our souls!
2008 Summer of Sports logo

2008 Summer of Sports

From the Little League fields to Jack Murphy field at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diegans love their sports! From amateur to professional sports, the Fair celebrates the love of the team!
2007 Salute to Heroes logo

2007 Salute to Heroes

Let's honor those among us whose words or deeds set them apart, such as public safety personnel, soldiers, sailors, doctors, nurses, paramedics, fathers, mothers, children and service animals.
2006 Ride the Tide to Fun logo

2006 Ride the Tide to Fun

In partnership with the famed environmental artist, Wyland, the Fair pays homage to a most precious resource, water. A highlight of the theme was the painting of a giant "Whaling Wall" mural by Wyland on a brand-new building that was completed just a few days before the 2006 Fair opened.
2005 Cinema Summer logo

2005 Cinema Summer

Lights, Camera, Action! The "Filming San Diego: Hollywood's Backlot" exhibit featured posters, photos, artifacts and costumes from films made in San Diego.
2004 Seussentennial Celebration logo

2004 Seussentennial Celebration

A celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), the late author and illustrator of children's books. The "Oh, The Places You'll Go" interactive exhibit celebrated the genius and imagination of one of San Diego's most famous citizens.
2003 Commotion by the Ocean logo

2003 Commotion by the Ocean

A salute to the sights, sounds and treasures the ocean brings to San Diego, in partnership with Birch Aquarium and Scripps Institute of Technology.
2002 It's Now or Never logo

2002 It's Now or Never

Celebrating the career of the late Elvis Presley. The theme exhibit, “It’s Now or Never" showcased the singer's accomplishments with music, movies, memorabilia, special events contests and exhibits.
2001 Endless Summer Endless Fun logo

2001 Endless Summer, Endless Fun

Nothing says "summer" in San Diego quite like the Fair. California's outdoor lifestyle is showcased where the turf meets the surf with Endless Summer, Endless Fun!
2000 California Dreamin' logo

2000 California Dreamin'

Salute to the Golden State's fun/sun/surf lifestyle, featuring displays of vintage longboards, photos and personal appearances by surfing icons. Also the finale of the statewide celebration of the 150th anniversary of California statehood.
1999 The Rush is on! logo

1999 The Rush is on the the Del Mar Fair

Continuing the California Sesquicentennial celebration. The "Gotta Go! Movin' to San Diego" exhibit showcased stories of families who moved to San Diego and their method of transportation, from ox carts to RVs.
1998 Discover California logo

1998 Discover California

Celebrating the California Sesquicentennial. The theme exhibit depicted gold discovery at Sutter's Mill, 'golden' harvest' (foods grown in San Diego County), and California's missions.
1997 California Dreamin' logo

1997 California Dreamin'

Salute to the Golden State's fun/sun/surf lifestyle, featuring displays of vintage longboards, photos and personal appearances by surfing icons. Also the finale of the statewide celebration of the 150th anniversary of California statehood.
1996 Far Out, Furry & Family Fun logo

1996 Far Out, Furry & Family Fun

Celebrating rare and unusual plants, produce and livestock. The “Seeds of Change" exhibit depicted the voyages of Columbus and the exchange of plants, animals and people between the Old and New Worlds.
1995 Flowers, Feathers and Old Fashioned Fun logo

1995 Flowers, Feathers and Old Fashioned Fun

Featuring poultry and petunias. This year also began the tradition of a major exhibit, which this year was "Home of the Brave," commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
1994 Fun for Ewe logo

1994 Fun for Ewe

A salute to lettuce and lambs
1993 Wheels and Squeals logo

1993 Wheels and Squeals

Celebrating the swine industry and the centennial of the Ferris wheel!
1992 Horsing Around, a 24-Carrot Love A-Fair logo

1992 Horsing Around, a 24-Carrot Love A-Fair

From Dressage to Barrel Racing, horses are beloved friends to humans. Here where the turf meets the surf, we're celebrating our equestrian companions.
1991 Better Get Moooovin' logo

1991 Better Get Moooovin'

Saluting the cow and dairy industry, Mumsy and her calf, Butterfly, mascots
1990 It's Hoppening! logo

1990 It's Hoppening!

Saluting the rose and rabbit industries, Rosalie Rabbit, mascot
1989 Get Crackin' It's All for You logo

1989 Get Crackin' It's All for You

Saluting the poultry and egg industries of San Diego County, Brooster Rooster, mascot
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