Two girls laugh during a ride in the Fun Zone at the 2017 San Diego County Fair.
Two girls laugh during a ride in the Fun Zone at the 2017 San Diego County Fair. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego County Fair won’t be held in 2020, organizers said Tuesday in the latest COVID-19 blow to a popular local institution.

“The health and safety of our community takes precedence during this unprecedented time of crisis,” said Tim Fennell, CEO/general manager of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. “The San Diego County Fair is a beloved family tradition … as well as a source of livelihood for numerous individuals and businesses. Yet with the continued impacts of COVID-19, postponing this year’s fair is the right thing to do.”

Fair organizers cited Gov. Gavin Newsom’s press conference earlier Tuesday in which he said mass gatherings were not likely to be allowed for the foreseeable future. This year’s fair had been set for June 5 through July 5.

The postponement of the fair — which last year drew 1.5 million visitors — was announced at the monthly 22nd District Agricultural Association Board of Directors meeting at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“We encourage all San Diegans to continue adhering to all public health guidelines so that the fair can return in 2021,” said the group, which noted that the 2020 fair theme was to be “Heroes, Unite!”

“Now more than ever, we’re acutely aware that some of our very greatest heroes walk among us,” fair organizers said. “We are so thankful to the healthcare workers and first responders who are keeping our communities safe, the teachers who keep our children learning and the countless community heroes who are going to extraordinary efforts to help others during this great time of need.

“That’s why we’ll be proud to carry this theme through to next year’s fair – honoring the heroes who continue to emerge throughout our community.”

The fair board also said the grounds are on standby to be used for Emergency Operations Services at any time.

“We’ve partnered with the San Diego Food Bank to serve as a food distribution site, have donated several hundred N95 masks to health care providers and will continue looking for ways to serve the community,” said a statement.

“We will also continue to heed advice from Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Department of Food & Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health as we move forward. We will begin hosting and planning future events once it has been deemed safe to do so.”