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By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Mark and Miriam Raftery

June 24, 2017 (Del Mar) – Whether you’re hankering to watch a Wild West shootout, taste a bacon-wrapped cactus or sip a glass of Screamin’ Chief 4th Alarm grand cuvee wine, you’ll find plenty to  hold your attention at the 2017 San Diego County Fair at Del Mar.

This year’s theme is “How the West was won.”   So we started our visit by moseying through a tunnel to Frontier Town, which is here until July 2. The fair itself runs through the 4th of July.

A highlight was the “Tumbleweed Crossing” comedy Western shootout featuring  a dim-witted deputy named Sheriff for a day – just in time to confront a pair of outlaws looking for trouble.  Will the real Sheriff save the day?  Find out, and you can even have your photo taken with the lucky lawmen or the desperados. 

View a video excerpt of the comedy gunfighting skit:

There’s also a “World of Horses” area where you can view a variety of breeds—and even pet some of them. Kids can also enjoy a favorite fair activity: pony rides.

You can try your luck panning for gold, watch a turkey stampede or a kids’ tractor pull,  or take a peek at 3,450 pounds of beef on the hoof—a steer large enough to make 10,000 hamburgers.

Later we stopped by the woodworking exhibits, where you can watch local wood carvers at work or just admire the many amazing carvings that ranged from wildlife to furniture to a John Wayne tribute. 

A moving entry is a depiction of the flag being raised by soldiers at Iwo Jima – viewed here by a young fair visitor getting a glimpse of both history and art.

At the photography competition, some of the winning entries this year featured members of the Hole in the Wall Gang from Lakeside here in East County.

Where else but San Diego would you find a giant sand sculpture with a “How the West was won” cowboy theme?  Check it out near the entrance in the garden area.

At the back of the garden exhibits is a bar aptly labled “Where the West was Fun.”  Each afternoon at 4 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. you can do wine tasting for just $5.  We samples wines from four local wineries, including two award winners:  Deerhorn Valley Winery’s Multepuciano (gold medal) and San Pasqual Winery’s Passionfruit Blanc (silver medal).

There was also a wonderful  Grand Cuvee from Belle Marie Winery titled Screamin’ Chief 4th Alarm – no, it’s not named after a Native American chief, but rather the retired fire chief-turned-winemaker, who once led efforts to battle the Cedar Fire. 

Winemaker John Saunders from Popaea Winery in Ramona offered up wine tasting tips and trivia (who knew climate  change is making Great Britain a white wine growing region?) as well as offerings of his Primativo red wine that he recommends pairing with pasta.

Speaking of food, you’ll find no shortage of it at this year’s fair – from barbecued turkey drumsticks to bacon-wrapped cactus and every imaginable form of sweet treats. 

Many vendor stalls this year sported Western storefront facades, though you’ll also find an assortment of Mexican-themed goods from colorful artificial flowers to serapes. 

As editor of East County Magazine, I couldn’t resist a new cowgirl hat with a bit of bling, They're available in every color of the rainbow, and the vendor will even size any hat to fit. Yeeha!

To  plan your visit to the San Diego County Fair at Del Mar and check out the schedule of upcoming events, visit   Happy trails!


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