San Diego County Fair organizers threaten to call off contract dispute over food, games and rides – NBC 7 San Diego
This year’s San Diego County Fair is less than two months away, but a legal setback is making it difficult for organizers — the 22nd District Agricultural Association (DAA) — to stage the event with the contractor that he’s chosen to lead the game and heading rides.
DAA and Talley Amusement are locked in a legal duel over the contract for the midway, the fairground area where food, rides and classic carnival games are found.
NBC 7’s Rory Devine explains why the fair is being overtaken by entrepreneurs offering rides and entertainment.
In a statement, Del Mar Fairground spokeswoman Jennifer Hellman said:
“On April 5, 2022, the San Diego Superior Court issued a procedural ruling that barred the 22nd DAA from pursuing the current Master Carnival Operator (“MCO”) contract for the 2022 fair. Earlier in the day, The court issued a subsequent order that, while refusing to stay that decision while the DAA pursues its appeal rights, allows the fair to resume selling tickets for a mid-term at the fair this summer.
“We are doing everything we can to preserve a full carnival halfway through the fair.
“We are continuing discussions with the affected parties regarding an amended contract, and we remain hopeful that we can reach a meaningful and appropriate resolution very soon. However, we cannot simply hand over the contract to complainants or anyone else in this matter – we must follow a process that ensures that the solution we offer is fair and equitable and complies with the law.
“We will continue to provide updates as they become available.”
Talley Amusements accuses the DAA of contributing to an unfair bidding process for the interim contract. A judge actually agreed by issuing an injunction.
“We are prepared to put the lawsuit aside for a year, hold a halfway carnival and make sure this year’s fair goes ahead,” said Talley Amusements attorney John Moot. “It wouldn’t take Talley Amusements but three or four weeks to pack up the rides, equipment and games for the fair and be in time to set it up.”
The San Diego Business Journal estimates that the Del Mar fairground rides and attractions attract 1.5 million people and generate $230 million in local spending.
A five-year interim contract is worth around $80 million and employs between 150 and 200 people, according to Moot.
“We are having direct discussions with Talley to try to resolve this issue,” DAA attorney Kevin Alexander said.
In 2019, organizers reported having 60,000 daily visitors and 500 vendors, 35% of whom are based in San Diego.
According to their lawyer, the DAA laid off 85% of its staff because there was no fair income. The 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic; last year’s version was scaled down.
This year, the DAA could lose $6 million in net revenue if it doesn’t host the fair, which could lead to additional layoffs, Alexander said.