From staffing the rides and keeping the fairgrounds tidy, to manning the food booths and the concerts, it takes a village to put on the 27-day run of the San Diego County Fair, and this year’s village will be made up of about 2,500 temporary employees.
The fair opens on May 31 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where it’ll run through the Fourth of July. During its run, an estimated 1.5 million visitors will walk through those gates. On the other side will be employees staffing every nook of the fairgrounds.
Nelly Cervantes, public information spokesperson for the San Diego County Fair, told NBC 7 the fair hires for every position, from parking attendants and traffic directors to ticket-takers, security guards, and guest services. As of May 15, Cervantes said the fair was still filling those jobs.
Those temporary summer jobs have become tradition for some San Diegans. According to Cervantes, a good portion of the fair’s employees return to their posts year after year, from students to retirees.
This year, the fair produced a video sharing some of those staffers’ stories. One repeat employee likened the experience to going to summer camp.
“At the end of the fair, it’s bittersweet; it’s like leaving summer camp,” that employee said in the video.
“If you do it one year, if you do it 15 years, it’s a great experience,” she added.
One man who’s been working at the fair for 12 summers said he started his gig picking up trash around the fairgrounds. Today, he works in the concert series area.
Other fair staffers in the video have worked in as mascot escorts, directing the trams in the parking lot and supervising the crowd at the hypnotist shows.
“It’s not a normal job but it’s fun,” one employee noted. “The work is enjoyable.’
For a full list of available jobs at the fair, visit this website.
The San Diego County Fair will be open Wednesday through Sunday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except for the final week of its run – July 2 and July 3 – when it opens from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
This year’s fair theme is “Oz-some,” inspired by L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Tickets cost $20 for adults and $14 for children ages 6 to 12 and seniors 62 and up. Kids under 5 get in free. General parking costs $17. For ways to score deals and discounts on fair tickets, click here.
In addition to the rides, outrageous food, activities and entertainment, the 2019 San Diego County Fair will again feature a long lineup of concerts. NBC 7’s SoundDiego breaks down the concerts here, which include big names like Toby Keith (June 14), Smokey Robinson (June 15), and “Mr. Worldwide,” Pitbull (June 29).
The fair will also host several festivals throughout its run, including Out at the Fair (June 1), the Toast of the Coast Wine Festival (June 8), the Gospel Festival (June 12), the Beer Festival (various dates), and the Distilled Spirit & Cocktail Festival (June 22).