Del Mar CA— The Del Mar Fairgrounds welcomed a grand total of 271,732 guests to Home•Grown•Fun, presented by the San Diego County Fair, exceeding expectations and serving as a kick-off for both summer and California’s Reopening for many San Diego families. The event wrapped up July 4 with an Independence Day celebration including patriotic cupcake decorating, patriotic costume contests, and a fireworks finale!
Planting the Seed
In March 2021, while San Diego County was still in the second-most restrictive of California’s COVID-19 Blueprint system, Fair organizers took a leap of faith in deciding to move forward in planning a summer event. The regional stay-at-home order had been lifted, San Diego County had administered 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccinations, and the Del Mar Fairgrounds was actively serving as one of the County’s Vaccination Super Stations. For the first time in a year, the possibility of hosting a safe and successful community gathering seemed like a real possibility.
An Idea Sprouts
With a compressed planning timeline, continued uncertainties of the pandemic and the need to be nimble considering the changing restrictions of public health orders, Fair organizers reached out to County Health for guidance on moving forward on a summer event which would offer San Diegans a “taste” of those favorite fair activities like food concessions, unique retail opportunities, and educational and agricultural programs that could all be orchestrated within the required guidelines. Rooted in the agricultural foundation and community spirit of the Fairgrounds’ mission, the event was branded “Home•Grown•Fun, presented by the San Diego County Fair” and would be open Wednesdays–Sundays from June 11–July 4, 2021.
An Event Grows
Tickets for Home•Grown•Fun were only available for purchase online, in advance, and went on sale May 1, 2021. As Home•Grown•Fun drew closer, California moved from the Red to Orange to Yellow tier, and on the event’s opening day, June 11, Governor Newsom announced plans to lift the pandemic executive orders and move “Beyond the Blueprint” tier system. The Governor’s plan to Reopen California went into effect June 15 and included lifting restrictions on physical distancing, and loosening capacity limitations and face covering requirements.
Home•Grown•Fun opened on June 11 under the Blueprint’s yellow tier, but having the tier system lifted three days later allowed event organizers to expand activities to include fourteen carnival rides in addition to the existing Ferris wheel and carousel. Attendance grew steadily during the event’s run, opening with 7,956 visitors on June 11, and closing out with 29,127 guests on July 4. Daily attendance averaged 15,000, which exceeded the original goal of 13,000 attendees per day.
HOME•GROWN•FUN Facts & Numbers
- Arizona and Holly, the two dairy cows at Hollandia Dairy’s “MOO-bile” milking demonstration in Agri-Land, produced almost 700 gallons of milk June 11–July 4, and 6,163 bottles of plain and chocolate milk were sold to Agri-Land visitors for $1 a bottle.
- The Top Hog of each heat at the Swifty Swine Pig Races got to gobble up an Oreo cookie at the finish line, and each audience section cheerleader took home a whole pack. The result? 3,000 Oreos!
- Extreme Dogs longest dock diving jump was 28.5 feet and the fastest agility/obstacle time was 11.2 seconds!
- Australian Battered Potatoes sliced, battered and served 3,600 pounds of Idaho potatoes.
- Biggy’s crushed it with their Flamin’ Hot Cheetos garnish on burgers, fries and pickles, using an estimated 1 million Cheetos to add spice and texture to their creative cuisine.
- Chicken Charlie, America’s Deep Fry King, cooked with 4,000 gallons of oil. Food concessionaires’ oil is recycled into biodiesel by New Leaf Biofuel.
- Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls used 900 pounds of butter to create their sweet buns.
- Kettle Corn used 250 pounds of sugar a day to create that perfectly-balanced salty and sweet, airy and crunchy snack sensation.
- Mom’s Bakeshoppe baked 41,000 fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.
Treasured Memories Blossom
“We set out to offer a fun, affordable, community experience–that taste of the fair we really missed out on last year. Seeing families back out at the Fairgrounds, smiling and having fun, that’s really what this is all about,” stated Del Mar Fairgrounds CEO Carlene Moore. “If we want to measure the success of this event on smiles, I’d say we hit it out of the park. Coming off the success of HOME•GROWN•FUN and with a full year to plan, we can hardly contain our excitement about the future and what it will mean for our community.” The traditional San Diego County Fair will return with full programming in the summer of 2022 including Grandstand entertainment, competitive exhibits and livestock barns.