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DEL MAR, Calif. — The San Diego County Fair kicked off its first weekend after almost being cancelled this year because of the pandemic.

“We actually cancelled it this year and then after vaccinations, you know, we are a vaccination super station and that effort was going great,” said Jennifer Hellman with the Del Mar Fairgrounds. “As we were watching the numbers and seeing things start to improve, our group got together and we thought, ‘Wow, maybe there is something we can do.'”

The fair is about 1/3 of its size compared to previous years, but still includes 40 food vendors, 3 shopping halls, rides and more.

“We’re happy to be back,” said Enzo Milano vendor Rubi Cazarez. “We’re happy to be talking to customers, interacting with them and finally just getting back to business.”

Some vendors were surprised at how many customers they saw this weekend.

“I didn’t think anybody going to show up, after COVID, all the rumors, but now yesterday Saturday was a wonderful day,” says The Roxy vendor Shoja Naimi.

Some fairgoers said they actually liked the smaller crowd this weekend.

“I’ve been going to this fair for like a decade and never has it been this nice and quiet and calm. In past years, it was like busy, but we got in, in like two minutes today,” fairgoer Tash Oslinger said.

Fairgoers kept their masks on this weekend but they will not be required to starting June 16, when the fair begins to operate with no coronavirus restrictions.

“I think that’s amazing,” said fairgoer Annalier Mitchell. “It’s been long overdue.”

The fair says it is currently selling 13,000 tickets a day. They usually sell 60,000 a day during a normal season.

Next week, the fair will bring in an additional 12 rides for guests to enjoy. Gates will be open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and admission is $10, half the price of the annual fair.

Admission and parking passes must be purchased in advance online and there will be no onsite admission or parking transactions. Organizers are requiring timed entry to avoid overcrowding and help ensure easy and safe access. Guests select their preferred arrival time and can stay as long as they want once inside the Fairgrounds.