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Rancho Santa Fe Lead Story

2015 fair to celebrate 1915 Balboa Park expo

DEL MAR — To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition held in Balboa Park, the city of San Diego and Del Mar Fairgrounds are partnering for the first time to present the 2015 San Diego County Fair.

The theme, A Fair to Remember — A Celebration of World’s Fairs and Balboa Park, was announced during a Sept. 24 press conference at the fairgrounds by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, 22nd District Agricultural Association President Fred Schenk and fairgrounds General Manager Tim Fennell.

Schenk said the 2015 theme exhibit would include displays that showcase the 1915 exposition and Balboa Park as it stands today.

It will also highlight inventions introduced at a World’s Fair during the last century, such as the Ferris wheel, mustard, air conditioning, the telephone, the bicycle and the Ford Mustang.

Fennell said one thing that sets the San Diego County Fair apart from other such events is its annual theme.

“It’s not just a catchy slogan,” he said. “We live and breathe our theme.”

Everything from the entrance area to the uniforms is tied into the theme, he added. “We want it to be fun, entertaining, educational, popular and to tie into the community. That’s very important to us.”

The 2015 emphasis will be on the food, culture and inventions, but other ideas “are still in development,” Schenk said. “This is going to be a new territory that we’re creating.”

“This truly pairs two iconic San Diego treasures,” Faulconer said. “This partnership … is a perfect fit for the community-focused centennial. It celebrates Balboa Park’s history, elevates the centennial to a regional event and promotes San Diego’s crown jewel on a whole new level.”

To celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, San Diego held the Panama-California Exposition because the city would be the first American port of call north of the canal on the Pacific coast.

The goal was to strengthen the economy that was still fragile from the Wall Street panic of 1907. With a population at the time of barely 40,000 people, San Diego was the smallest city to hold an international exposition.

This is the first collaboration between the city of San Diego and state-owned fairgrounds, which is governed by the 22nd DAA.

“My friend, it’s been a long time coming,” Schenk said to Faulconer.

“Mr. Mayor, I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” Fennell added.

The 2015 fair will be held from June 5, beginning at 4 p.m., through July 5. It will be closed Mondays and the first two Tuesdays, running for 24-and-a-half days.

The late afternoon opening on a Friday is considered a “sneak peek,” with planned surprises for early fairgoers. Officials said it is also a convenient time for parents since youngsters will still be in school.

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