The FAIR the FAIR

The FAIR! The sounds. The sites. The grease! How anyone could refuse deep fried Oreos, grilled turkey legs, or the many other joys of the fair I can't tell. Although this is THE fair to San Diego County, it is quite a different experience to the county fairs back east. More to follow.

$21 will convert a fair-goer to a fair-wenter. We all had to pass though metal detectors and no opened beverages were allowed through the gates. I had a couple bottles of gatorade to manage the blistering heat, and luckily that saved me some time and money. Nestling myself deep within the grounds, a small jam group held down a corner near the flower exhibits.

Rather than perform a flower-for-flower competition to see who had the best daisy, rose blossom, or spiney cactus, people instead competed at the garden level: with whole plots contending for blue. This shot came from the Quail Botanical gardens up in Encinitas. They had an unfair advantage over the competitors, but didn't manage to win the grand prize.

Many had water displays sponsored by landscaping companies. Free advertising.

Such meticulous work -- this is an average display.

On a closer look, quite an attention for detail.

Eastern themes, more east than Ohio, gave this vine-covered canopy a welcomed crawlspace for people and birds alike.

The path leading inside the vine-covered hideaway.

What fair competition would be complete without a panel of experts. Backed by shiny emblems and decades of judgmental hen-pecking, the ladies here represented the highest echelon of flower-knower-abouters.

Russian toys for sale in one of the tents.

Fair food gone west coast. Many more Mexican and seafood-based trailers than I'd seen before.

Sweet salivation. Mmm... ribs.

The fair in SD lasts for quite a few weeks, with major acts headlining some very large stages, and miscellaneous events scattered throughout the month. Today, I came for the professional boxing in the early afternoon. I will still very early now in mid-morning, but Agent 22 was performing one of their hits. Backed by drums and an electric guitar, the Chapman Stick is featured draw for the alternative group.

More of the Del Mar fairgrounds.

"I'll never let go, Jack." The Titanic may have well ended this very same way.

The fun zone separate the grease and fried zone from the designated vomit areas.

Grilled turkey en-masse.

Still well before noon, not many people were riding rides. Rides have come a long way since I was a wee lad: there were contraptions here that I believe are legal only Mexico...

So many colors.

The mega-slide, taller than any I'd seen.

Step right up and win some crap.

Ooooo.

I was caught off guard by the many fun-house on the grounds. There were over a dozen altogether. Some were cart-driven like the Zombie factory, while others revved belt-driven floors and spinning tunnels.

A creepy fun-house is still a fun-house, I suppose...

Brilliant!

One of the many new rides, a take on the traditional scrambler now included hinges on the carts' sides. No more fun to squish the person on the end... the riders were too busy keeping their lunches inside the ride at all times.

Another big spinning thing.

Under the table and dreaming.

It only makes sense that there would be fun-bags in a fun-house.

I'm sure the haunted houses would be much more fun at night. Holding the fair at the dawn of summer left little time for dusk-level fun.

Scary, even in broad daylight.

The gas-driven rides of the fair blew away most other fairs that I had seen. The animal exhibits were somewhat lacking. 4H just isn't racking them in like they used to. There was one barn that had a couple sheep in large pens. Next to a couple chickens, and a couple cows. I think that this barn was more to educate people that animals do not come in foam cellophane from the grocery store.

A californian sheep, with blepharoplasty and a face lift. Grossly adorable at 54 years old.

Although Californians may not keep pigs and cows for show like eastern states, they do keep bunnies. The most bunnies I'd seen at a time. Every species and shape and size. These are panda bunnies.

Such big eyes. Love me.

A brown bunny.

Signs littered the barn forbidding fair-goers from petting the bunnies. They may nip. It spreads disease. In my opinion, they were just asking for it.

Classy bunnies with collars.

Fear me.

This was a giant bunny. Giant was somewhere in the species name, because it was well over 2 feet long and the ears stood 18 inches from the ground. To put it into scale, it is about the size of a queen-size pillow on end, and just as soft.

Riiight.

Another barn did have some cows afterall...although very few. Giant cow eyes in this calf looked for a tasty bunch of grass among the hay.

All of the cows.

Let me have a good look at you.

So the San Diego fair doesn't particularly host cows, horses, sheep, chickens, or pigs. Although there were several long aisles of bunnies in cages, there was one-and-a-half barns dedicated to goats. This guy was taking an afternoon nap.

A goat in a t-shirt.

The wily eye of the American goat.

Nice coat on this goat.

Hello. My name is Nelson. I am a goat. I am a foodie. I have a drinking problem.

A guard goat. It kept an eyeful watch over the premises.

Can't they always stay so young and innocent?

Youth.

Leaving the last barn, there were no horses to be found either. The stadium held the roar of horse-power though as various dirt carts ran their circles through the course.

Apparently this was the two-man golf shotgun.

The drivers caught some air in certain parts of the track...

...while the audience caught some dirt in others.

Little trucks hauled around the track for the next race. Actually, the fair was holding a raffle to win one of these small carts.

Taking the turn.

Desert season is big in San Diego, when all of the off-road vehicles migrate inland during the winter months to make a mess of the desert. Some of the big names, or so I assume, were on hand to display their wares.

A pair of metal knuckles for the door pull.

Turkey was the food of the fair. Most every grill had several yards of smoked drumsticks.

Puppets! The smaller ones pictures went for 20 dollars. Larger, and what I would consider television-quality puppets went from 40 to 80, depending on the outfit and and detail. The "Sunny" brand has some impressive designs that include wire arms for that puppet-enthusiasm.

A rodeo clown.

It wasn't hard to tell which vendors weren't from health-conscious California.

A robot, obviously.

Animatronic facial expressions and 100% plastic casing.

Lunch-time at the fair.

There are two hidden rules for fair food. First of all, it must be cooked quickly. Hence fried. In addition, it has to be portable. Food on a stick keeps the crowds moving and chewing.

BBQ Beef Sundae: Includes brisket with mashed potatoes and BBQ sauce. Another side of the fair is the fact that you won't have any money if you decide to eat or ride. Altogether, I shed roughly 40 dollars between fried clams, BBQ beef sandwiches, hand-squeezed lemonade, pretzels, fries, mmmm...

After snagging some lunch, it was time to claim a seat near the ring for the afternoon fights. Although I waited almost an hour for the match to begin, it was pushed back while the US trounced Mexico on the big TV screen. I did have to bake in the sun longer than I wanted, but I was able to take in the Gold Cup and have a great view near the corner. This guy was the timekeeping referee for the bouts. Ding!

...in this corner, a kickboxer from Russia. Today he would only be using his hands in his professional boxing debut.

...and in this corner, from Tijuana, Mexico, the other boxer. It was also his professional debut.

Dancing around each other, it was clear early on that the Russian knew the ropes, and that the Mexican was going to learn them first hand, and then second hand, and then first and second hand with a right cross...

Taking a few hits to the head, the first round was pretty uneventful. The Mexican had his knocks and the Russian untouched. Did the Mexican have what it takes to be a winner...

...why yes, I think he thought he did...

...have what it takes to be the champion from this day forth!...

...that is, of course, until the Russian knocked him on his ass.

Ok. Time to regroup. Get it together. One step at a time...

...remember what coach said. What Rocky Balboa said. What Tony the Tiger said...

...I believe... I believe...

Right before he got drilled in the chops.

...just testing the ropes coach. They look good and authentic...

...now, time for business. Light as a butterfly, sting like a bee. Eye of the tiger... eye of the tiger...

...ready...

...GO! Winner by knockout.

Oh but the fun didn't stop there. While trying to revive the loser for the match results, he fell apart. They had quite a bit of trouble bring him back around...

...he almost got to his feat before eating some mat...

...his corner managed to drag him up the chair while he screamed "I CAN'T BREATHE!" while flailing his arms around...

...in tears, he wasn't taking the loss very well. Doctors climbed into the ring.

One could tell he had never taken a beating like the one he just endured.

He wasn't responding either.

The look of defeat.

The Russian corner didn't know what to do. They just smiled and snickered occasionally while medics rushed to the other corner.

Help arrived.

The announcer made sure to spell out every syllable in the fighters' names.

After 10 minutes of post-fight drama, the crowd was restless for another right.

The second fight was in the feather-weight division. He reminded me of Odin, the Mexican boxer.

His favorite right hand. This was the last anyone saw of it before the opponent went down in 30 seconds of the first round. Our champ took a few swings to the head and just made a mess of the other guy. If this was pro boxing at the fair, I had better things to do with my afternoon.

Giving up my ring-side seat, one stage was dedicated just for Mexican music.

During another tour of the rides, the carousel had ponies, a lion, and a saber-toothed pig, complete with ruffles and tassels.

Oh, youth.

Although smiles at the fair don't come cheap, they are genuine.

Paint.

Everyone was a winner...so long as you paid 5 dollars per game.

Paul recommended that I check out the woodworking displays, as San Diego is world-renown for some of the best there are. These two competed to make a top first, even cheating by throwing chips at each other to slow them down. It was fun to watch.

Boat makers.

Chair makers.

Returning for the final fight of the day, I counted on a good show. My seat was claimed. This was the closest that I could pry.

With 9 professional wins in only a dozen fights, he was good...

...and he knew it.

Ready to fight.

The fight could only last four rounds, so both fights came out swinging early. Most everyone favored the pro in white shorts because of his record. However, the guy in blue just refused to go down.

A jab to the jaw.

Squaring up in the first round, the guy in blue had taken a few licks.

The champ started to get greedy, and took a big swing that missed...

...only to be returned with a right cross to the face, and a left uppercut. The visitor was not to be taken lightly.

Ducking and dodging.

After the first round, it was obvious that neither was going to go down easy. The punches just flowed from one another.

Diving in.

Driving each other back with fists of flurry.

Attack!

More goodness.

The third round brought the heat.

Although the guy in blue pants went down after taking a few too many, the crowd began cheering to finish him off. However, he could take them just as well as he could dish them out, so I knew he wasn't going to be knocked out.

But even a solid chin can get worn down.

Round 4... last chance.

Neither boxer would back down, but by the looks of those muscles, I'd say it wasn't pleasant to be on the receiving side of those blows.

To the face!

Another reach.

In the last seconds, each man blindly dealt everything he had left to finish strong. Both men walked away, although on technical merit, white shorts won the bout.

Pizza and a prize.

Near the gardens again, one was themed like the old west.

The kiddie-land was designated as the infield of the race track. More fun-houses there, too.

Kid rides.

What fair would be complete without paintball!?

The swamp area in the infield.

Pony rides just can't compete with elephant rides. Two elephants carried families up to 5. Nice lay, though.

Mmmm. Fried....things.

Now early into the evening, I was sunburn beyond repair and exhausted. I really had wanted to stay into the night to photograph the rides lit up, but now had a headache after being on my feet for 8 hours in the sun. Deb didn't believe me that there were lasso mexican boys. Proof.

His mother was very proud.

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