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Getting Pumped About the San Diego County Fair—AGAIN

Why it's worth going back year after year

 As you'll learn in our upcoming jobs-themed issue, my first job ever was working at the Del Mar Fair. At 14, I was only allowed to work four-hour shifts every other day, but still—I was employed! For two weeks! Everyone at Earl Warren Jr. High thought I was the sh-t. Truthfully, I had no ambition but my mother was like a stage mom for children laboring in minimum wage jobs. It was the start of a long relationship with the Fair.

Summer after summer, I passed out programs, collected tickets, sold tickets, and guarded the O'Brien, Solana, Arena, and "trash" gates. One year I wore overalls as my uniform. Another, I was nearly taken out by a runaway horse at the Furlong Gate, and another year, my supervisor made me file a sexual harassment complaint against one of the trash guys. I should be done with the Fair.

But I'm not.

After high school, I moved out of San Diego for 13 years and only went back to the Fair for the first time last Friday, for a media preview. The O'Brien Stage had moved 25 feet, the farm animals weren’t stinking up the entrance, and there was a giant souvenirs store immediately upon walking in. But a lot of things were the same. The pink Gingerbread house was in its usual place. Godfrey the Magician was still vying for my attention.

I strolled through the main drag, enjoying what was new (to me): fried Kool-Aid, fried brownies (pictured below—yum!), and a ride for suckers bungee jumpers, which must have replaced the swing thing that used to be on the infield.

Our Fair is one of North America's top 10 for attendance. I think it was the second largest when I worked there. I was always so proud of the spectacle my hometown hosted—never mind that every county in the world has the same Tilt-a-Whirl.

They try to change the theme every year, they try to lure bigger talent, but hey, it's just the Fair. Still, I'm excited to attend the 2011 Fair. There's nothing wrong with doing the same thing repeatedly. It's called "tradition." And it’s a total pleasure riding the Tilt-a-Whirl, no matter how many times you’ve done it. And guess what? It's ours for the next few weeks. Might as well give it another go. And another and another.

Who’s pumped for the Fair??

About This Blog

San Diego Magazine's editorial staff (Erin Chambers Smith + Erin Meanley + Kimberly Cunningham + a handful of smart, thoughtful contributors) blog everything from restaurants and bars to behind the scenes gossip to the best events happening this weekend. Looking for foodie and restaurant guru Troy Johnson? He's got his own blog here.

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