Del Mar Fairgrounds threatens to cancel 2022 SD County Fair

Susan S. Johnson

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) — Three days after saying a recent court order is not expected to impact elements of the San Diego County Fair aside from the midway. The fairgrounds now says the entire event could be canceled if the judge’s preliminary injunction is not stayed.

New court documents filed Monday and obtained by ABC 10 News argue, “If the order is not stayed, the TDAA will likely have to cancel the 2022 San Diego County Fair for a third consecutive year.”

Last week, Judge Kenneth Medel issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the 22nd District Agricultural Association, the public agency that manages and operates the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the San Diego County Fair. The District is being sued by Talley Amusements, one of two companies that bid on a multi-million dollar, five-year contract to operate the Fair’s midway, including the rides, carnival games and some food vendors.

After the contract was awarded to the other company, Ray Cammack Shows, also known as RCS, Talley alleged that Fair staff had rigged the scoring on the bids, which have to follow public contracting laws. With the 2021 fair canceled due to COVID, the District pulled the contract and instead issued a new request for proposals for the 2022 Midway. Talley chose not to bid, alleging that the RFP was specifically so that only RCS could win.

Instead, Talley sued.

Judge Medel found that there was evidence of favoritism and issued the preliminary junction to void the contract with RCS for 2022.

In a statement last Friday, a Fair spokesperson said, “With the fair set to open in just two months, we are hopeful that the parties will come together and reach a deal. Other fair activities and exhibitions outside of the midway remain fully in place and on schedule and are not expected to be impacted by these discussions.”

In the new court documents filed Monday, the District announced its intention to appeal the ruling while also asking the judge to reconsider and issue a stay, which would allow the contract with RCS to remain in effect for the 2022 show. In the filing, the attorneys for the District repeat several times their position that “a canceled Fair will be the reality at this late date”.

An attorney for Talley, John Moot, says this is not the case.

“Talley wants to see a carnival out there. Apparently, the 22nd DA does not,” Moot said in an interview with ABC 10 News. “They’re more interested in going to our and delay tactics than in sitting down and working out the situation, which they still have time to do.”

Moot is accusing the District of trying to “run out the clock,” hoping that pushing the stalemate closer to the June 8 opening day will convince the judge to allow the contract with RCS to stand in order to prevent the fair from being canceled.

“This emergency that they now find themselves in is clearly one of their own makings. And now they have to fix it. They have to stop playing games and they need to fix it,” Moot said.

Talley can still provide a full Midway for this year’s event, Moot said. However he said due to the logistics involved, a decision would need to be made in the next one or two weeks.

There is a court hearing on the matter Tuesday morning. The lawsuit is also on the agenda for Tuesday afternoon’s Fairgrounds board meeting.

Multiple attempts to reach the fair spokesperson for comment on the new court filings were unanswered by the deadline.

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