Del Mar

Organizers Threaten to Cancel San Diego County Fair Over Contract Dispute for Food, Games, Rides

The San Diego County Fair Comes to Southern California
Sandy Huffaker

The fate of this year’s San Diego County Fair is hanging in the balance, but not because of COVID-19.

The fair is less than two months away and the 22nd District Agricultural Association (TDAA), the group that runs the fair, is threatening to cancel it.

The TDAA and Talley Amusement are locked in a court duel over the midway contract. The midway is the area of the fair where food, amusement rides and classic carnival games are found.

"It is posturing I think," said John Moot, an attorney for Talley Amusement. "I think it is to try and get the judge to un-do the decision he already made."

NBC 7's Rory Devine explains why the fair is caught up with contractors offering rides and amusements.

Talley is accusing the TDAA of helping along an unfair bidding process for the midway contract, and Moot says a judge effectively agreed by issuing an injunction.

Now the TDAA threatening to cancel the fair entirely if the judge doesn't toss out the injunction.

"If the order is not stayed, pending a ruling by the Court of Appeal on defendants’ petition, the TDAA will likely have to cancel the 2022 San Diego County Fair for a third consecutive year,” TDAA wrote in a request for a stay on the injunction.

Talley Amusement is willing to make a deal as long as they are included in the midway contract, according to Moot, but the deadline is approaching.

"We are willing to put aside the lawsuit for a year and come out and put on a carnival on the midway and make this year’s fair happen," Moot said. "It wouldn’t take Talley Amusements but three or four weeks to pack up the rides, equipment and games for the fair and be out in time to set that up," Moot said.

There is one thing both Tally and the TDAA can agree on that could get the show on the road, according to Moot.

"There is a lot of money to be made at the midway of the fair," he said. "It is a very lucrative proposition for all parties involved, and we’ll work it out."

The San Diego Business Journal estimates the rides and attractions at the fair in Del Mar lures  in 1.5 million people and generates $230 million in local spending.

A five-year midway contract is worth some $80 million and employs between 150 and 200 people, according to Moot.

Contact Us