DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) - For the first time since before the Pandemic, the San Diego County Fair is welcoming fans back to the Del Mar Fairgrounds for a full-sized event.
The fair was canceled in 2020 and downsized for 2021.
This year, the theme is "Heroes Reunite," as the fair will honor everyday fictional heroes as well as real-life heroes like first responders, doctors, and teachers.
"We've Been working with the Comic-con Museum. They're going to be here on site, some cosplayers. So I think you're going to really get that sense of hero," says Jacky Esheoby, the Fair's Agricultural and Education Director.
"But then you're also going to see the community heroes we're celebrating. We have 48 Community Heroes, as well as all the traditional heroes. We think of the policemen and the firemen in our and our doctors and our teachers and I like to say our farmers."
There are some changes for this year. Daily attendance will be capped at 50,000 people. Tickets and parking must all be purchased in advance, either online or at several retail locations around the county, and most of the fair is cashless.
As fans filled the Midway for Opening Day, most didn't seem to mind the changes. They were just glad to get back to their favorite foods and rides.
"I want to go on the Gravitron because it's my favorite," says Sergio Castaneda. "And I want to at least get on every single ride before we leave."
"It was a nice day out and we thought coming the first day would bring good luck with the crowd," says Chad Leising. "I'm glad it worked out."
This year's fair didn't come without controversy. A lawsuit over who gets to run the Midway threatened to cancel the entire event. And the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which runs the fair, dealt with money issues because of lost revenue in 2020 and 2021. They also just settled a $4.3 million lawsuit over an E. Coli breakout that sickened nearly a dozen kids in 2019.
But fair officials say all that is behind them and they're looking forward to this summer.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," says Fair COO Katie Mueller. "And this certainly has. We've had some challenges. But we are all just happy to be here, happy to be part of this event, and bringing this event to the people of San Diego."
The fair runs every Wednesday through Sunday until July 4. For more information about hours and events, check the San Diego Fair website.