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It's official: 2001 Del Mar Fair is eighth largest fair in nation

This year, the fair will be renamed the 2002 San Diego County Fair

The 2001 Del Mar Fair was ranked as the eighth largest fair in the United States and tenth largest in North America, according to the Dec. 24, 2001 edition of Amusement Business Magazine, a trade publication specifically targeting the fair and theme park industry. Despite a slight drop in attendance, the Del Mar Fair retained the same position it held in 2000, which was a record year. Attendance for 2001 was 1,126,204 as compared to 1,169,150 in 2000.

The Del Mar Fair is the largest and oldest annual event in San Diego County, and is a yearly tradition for the majority of visitors. The Fair is perennially among the top 10 fairs in the United States for attendance. It is the largest of all the fairs within the California state system and has consistently attracted more than 1 million visitors since 1989.

"Our high ranking is a tribute to the teamwork of those who help to make the Fair happen," said Timothy Fennell, CEO and general manager of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. "We also have a great location with cool breezes that help attract visitors on warm summer days; and our theme, 'The Endless Summer,' was a perfect fit for our event."

The annual fair features the largest independent midway in the region; animal, woodworking and floral exhibits; a variety of concessions; top-line grandstand performers; and senior- and Hispanic-oriented days.

The Amusement Business story noted that there was a major reshuffling of fairs in the top 10 rankings in 2001; much of which was attributed to the Sept. 11 disaster, a weaker economy and poor weather conditions.

"Our goal for next year is to move up a few notches," said Fennell. "And we've got some big changes planned for the 2002 fair."

Among those planned changes is the renaming of the event back to its original name -- The San Diego County Fair -- which it held in some fashion from 1880 through the early 1980s. The renaming, which was approved by the Fairgrounds' Board of Directors, was intended to reconnect the Fair with its intended constituents: the people of San Diego County.

The theme for the 2002 San Diego County Fair will be Elvis: A tribute to the King of Rock & Roll. It is the only fair to ever be officially sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises.

Some of the most popular of the more than 300 events held at the Fairgrounds include: The Scream Zone, Holiday of Lights, Del Mar National Horse Show and the live thoroughbred horseracing meet. The Fairgrounds also owns and operates the Surfside Race Place, the largest off-track betting facility in the nation; the Del Mar Horsepark; and the Surf n' Turf recreational facility -- making the fairgrounds a popular entertainment venue.

Another change patrons will see is more dates to attend the Fair and a later opening time. The dates for the 2002 fair will be from Saturday, June 15 through Sunday, July 7. However the Fair will be closed the first two Mondays, June 17 and 24. The Fair will also open later on weekdays, setting the opening time at 11 a.m.

"The 2002 San Diego County Fair promises to be the best and most exciting ever," Fennel said. "Just the kind of place San Diegans can gather to celebrate with their families, the community and their country."

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