Agriculture – the growth and farming of food, flowers & fiber – is what originally brought San Diegans together for the annual fair. By holding competitions to see who grew the sweetest citrus, who baked the tastiest pie, and who had the fastest horse, the San Diego County Fair was born in 1880.
Just after the turn of the century, in an effort to promote and encourage local farming and industry, the California legislature formally organized agricultural associations throughout the state, and the 22nd District Agricultural Association (22nd DAA) was established in San Diego.
In 1936, the 22nd DAA purchased the property at the mouth of the San Dieguito River, now known as the Del Mar Fairgrounds, to host the annual county fair. That first year, more than 50,000 guests attended the San Diego County Fair’s 10-day event. One year later the Del Mar Turf Club began leasing the racetrack for its annual live throughbred horse race meet, with the famous blue-eyed crooner Bing Crosby welcoming guests through the turnstiles.
Generations of San Diegans have made the annual fair and race meet part of their summer tradition.