Del Mar Fairgrounds board responds to court injunction

Lights of the midway at the San Diego County Fair in 2017.
Lights of the midway at the San Diego County Fair in 2017.
(San Diego Union-Tribune )

Following an injunction that threw the 2022 San Diego County Fair into doubt, Del Mar Fairgrounds officials said April 12 that they are working on a “fair and equitable” solution that will allow the fair to proceed this year.

The injunction, issued earlier this month by Superior Court Judge Kenneth Medel, blocked a contract that had been approved for Ray Cammack Shows to exclusively run the midway at this year’s fair. Another company that competed for the contract, Talley Amusements, sued the district over allegations that the bid process was rigged against them.

Medel rejected a bid from district lawyers to stay enforcement of his order on Tuesday, April 12, the Union-Tribune reported. Medel urged the district and the companies vying for the contract to work together so a fair can be held.

“While we strongly disagree with this ruling and are concerned by some of the unproven contentions that it’s apparently based upon, that is where we are right now,” said G. Joyce Rowland, president of the board of directors that runs the fairgrounds.

Rowland added that the court has allowed the fair to restart ticket sales for the carnival midway — “which of course is very positive,” she said.

The fair will be held every day from June 8 to July 4, except Mondays and Tuesdays. The theme, which has been held over from 2020, is “Heroes Reunite.”

The Union-Tribune previously reported that the judge’s 14-page ruling said Talley could likely prove that the bid requirements for the 2022 fair contract were “specifically tailored” so that Ray Cammack Shows would win, contrary to public contracting laws that are supposed to encourage open and competitive bidding.

“There is at least the appearance of favoritism which is contrary to public policy,” Medel wrote.

“We respect the legal process and are continuing to work to find a solution that complies with the recent court order while we are simultaneously pursuing our appeal options,” Rowland said. “I want to assure everyone that we’re doing everything possible to preserve a full carnival midway at the fair. We must ensure that whatever solution we come up with is fair and equitable and complies with the law.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Del Mar Fairgrounds hasn’t hosted a San Diego County Fair since 2019. In 2021, officials were able to hold Homegrown Fun, a scaled-down version of the fair.

The fair board’s April 12 meeting also included a presentation from the board’s Fair Operations Committee about the progress in planning for this year’s fair.

Katie Mueller, chief operating officer of the fairgrounds, said that more than 15,000 concert tickets to the grandstand series lineup have been sold so far. Performers include Jason Derulo, the Goo Goo Dolls and Shaggy. There have also been about 1,700 admission tickets and 2,100 parking tickets sold.

“If anybody questions whether we’re going to be having a fair in 2022, I think you’ve seen the answer to that one,” board member Frederick Schenk said.