San Dieguito River Park

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History of the Del Mar Fairgrounds

(Leer en Español)

The San Diego County Fairgrounds have a long and vibrant history here in Del Mar. In 1880, James A. Garfield was elected President, the U.S. flag only had 38 stars on it and San Diego only had a few thousand residents. This was also the year that the first agricultural fair was organized in San Diego County. This was the start of the San Diego County Fair. Between 1900 and 1935 horse racing provided a steady source of funds for the area. Local fairs became State agencies in 1904 in order to promote and encourage local agricultural and home industry. Throughout the 1920’s the area surrounding the San Diego County Fairgrounds became an airport called San Dieguito Airfield.

In 1936, when San Diego County was awarded a grant to build fairgrounds in Del Mar; all the local residents’ spirits were soaring because of the effect the project would have on the local economy. The combination of the county fair and the Del Mar Turf Club provided the area with a vast array of entertainment and attendance steadily rose at the fairgrounds through the late 1930s. Many of the Hollywood elite became involved: Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien (who both have buildings on the fairgrounds named after them) and Jimmy Durante (the name of the street that passes along the fairgrounds). The high spirits were soon dampened; in 1941 the US entered WWII and the fairgrounds became barracks, galleys, mess halls and classrooms for the troops.

In 1946, the fair resumed and the blimp landing area built by the Navy remained until the anticipation of the Interstate 5 construction which began in 1947. Today, the San Diego County Fairgrounds attract millions of people from Southern California. It hosts numerous different shows, concerts, festivities, and fairs that people come from all over to be a part of. The county fair and Del Mar horse races are held annually every summer and other events are held throughout the entire year.




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