SAN DIEGO – The future of carnival rides and games at the San Diego County Fair is up in the air as contract disputes continue.
According to officials, the uncertainty stems from an ongoing legal dispute over the vendor of the Midway area at the Del Mar Fairgrounds event.
Last year, two different companies submitted bids to the 22nd District Agricultural Association (DAA) to operate the fair’s Midway area – Talley Amusements submitted the better bid, but the agricultural association awarded the five-year deal to Ray Cammack Shows (RCS).
Talley’s owners sued and Judge Kenneth Mendel agreed, writing in his ruling that the situation seemed to be rigged in favor of RCS.
“The evidence presented supports an inference of ‘favoritism,’ ‘fraud’ and ‘corruption’ as to the award of public contracts, although no such definitive findings are made herein,” Judge Mendel wrote last week.
In court Tuesday, Mendel denied a stay filed by the DAA, forcing the companies to work it out independently while also essentially nullifying the contract signed by RCS and the DAA.
“I think the courts’ decision is clear based on the evidence before it. The contract that was awarded to RCS is void because it was the fruit of an illegal process,” said John Moot, an attorney representing Talley Amusements.
Despite the setbacks, DAA officials say that they are hopeful they can pull off the fair- games, rides and all.
“We are doing everything we can to preserve a full carnival midway at the Fair,” a representative for the DAA said last week. “We are continuing discussions with the involved parties about a modified contract and we remain hopeful that we can reach a meaningful and appropriate resolution very soon.”
Judge Mendel’s ruling Tuesday, while not allowing DAA to undo the decision made last week, does allow the fair operators to resume ticket sales for the event, slated to kick-off on June 8.