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Annual fair returns with fried food headlining

Attendees of this year’s San Diego County Fair will not only bake in the Southern California sun, but will also have the chance to eat fried Pop-Tarts and Klondike ice cream bars.

Those are two of the many “culinary” highlights of this year’s “Taste the Fun” theme for the annual summer tradition, which set a record of 1.275 million visitors last year. Fairgoers can also try a newly concocted sweet potato fry dog, followed by a dessert of funnel cake on a stick. For those who have the appetite, also new this year is the 4-pound belly buster burger, 11 inches wide with 10 slices of cheese, 30 slices of dill pickles and 5 ounces of burger sauce.

“It’s the annual fair, what the heck, you come out, you splurge and you’ve got the rest of the year to be good,” said fairgrounds Chief Executive Officer Tim Fennell of the 22-day event. “It’s a treat.”

Just do us all a favor and don’t go on any of the more than 80 available rides right after eating these. But as in the case of last year, Tuesday Taste of the Fair returns, in which attendees can try a taster portion of the fair’s fare for $2 each.

For those who can still bear the utter sight of food after that, this year’s fair will also include several cooking contests with a cash prize of $150, enough for at least a month’s supply of Tums. There will be seven contests in all, each on a different day. Entrants will compete for, among others, who can make the most creative sandwich, guacamole, pizza and deep-fried “delights.”

Speaking of fried, artist Jim Victor will spend his days at the fair this year transforming 600 pounds of butter into a sculpture depicting a fair scene. Also new this year is the performer known as Bandaloni, who manages to play a guitar, harmonica, drums and sing, all at the same time.

An interactive family-friendly “Star Trek” attraction makes its debut. It will run five times daily, every 90 minutes, starting at 1:30 p.m. Participants will have to master the intricacies of “Star Trek” as they try to defeat alien enemies. Famed artist Robert Wyland, known for painting oceanic scenes on large buildings, will paint with kids at the fair on June 16.

As usual, the fair will consist of various rides, animal interactions and several exhibits. It begins today and runs through July 5, with the exception of three Mondays: June 14, 21 and 28.

“If you like music, you’ve got to come to the fair; if you like food, you’ve got to come to the fair; if you like rides, we’ve got more than 80,” Fennell said. “If you like to shop, shop ‘til you drop; if you like livestock, we’ve got them too.”

These are just some of the highlights of this year’s San Diego County Fair. For the rest, visit

www.sdfair.com/fair

.

Ticket deals

  • The “Best Pass Ever” returns: Unlimited admission for all 22 days. Cost: $22, available bought at

www.sdfair.com

  1. This does not include ride tickets.
  2. Tuesday admission to the fair is $3 if bought at Albertsons through June 15. Adult tickets are also available for $2 off the regular price at Albertsons.
  3. Two-for-one admission coupons are available at San Diego County Toyota dealers.

Rides

  • There will be 40 rides in the Fun Zone and 41 in Kiddieland.
  • Most rides will cost between three and six ride coupons, which are 75 cents each. Ride coupons are discounted when bought in bulk, as 14 coupons cost $10, 30 coupons cost $20, and 77 coupons cost $50.
  • There will also be roughly 40 carnival games of skill in both locations of the fair.
  • The Fun Zone opens at 11 a.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Monday, July 5. Noon other days. It closes at midnight Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday, July 4. All other nights, the Fun Zone closes at 11 p.m.
  • Kiddieland opens at 11 a.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Monday, July 5. Noon other days. It closes at 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m. all other nights.

If you go

  • June 11-July 5
  • Adults 13 and older, $13
  • Senior citizens (ages 62 and older), $7
  • Children ages 6 to 12, $7 (free on Tuesdays)
  • Ages 5 and younger are free
  • Parking $10 in main lot. Free parking and shuttle service available from the fairgrounds horsepark, at 14550 El Camino Real, east of Interstate 5 (at Via de la Valle and El Camino Real). Runs weekends, and July 2 and 5; free parking and shuttle service available from Torrey Pines High School beginning at 9 a.m.