San Diego County Fair looking to be pretty ‘sweet’

Chicken Charlie’s Cotton Candy Ice Cream Sandwich
Brittany Woolsey

It's OK to indulge. Calories don't count at the San Diego County Fair. At least, that's according to fair CEO Tim Fennell.

He quipped the words at a press conference for the annual, month-long fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on May 16. At the media event, vendors served various decadent dishes aimed at making adults "feel like children in a candy store" and catering to the year's theme of "How Sweet It Is."

"We take all the calories out for the 26 days, so you can eat as much as you want," Fennell joked.

Perhaps the most theme-heavy treat this year is Chicken Charlie's latest concoction: the cotton candy ice cream sandwich. The dessert is just like it sounds — vanilla ice cream sandwiched between pink and blue pieces of cotton candy shaped like round cookies. Fruity Pebbles are also added outside the rim of the ice cream for an extra special colorful, sweet touch.

"It looks ironically just like the theme," said Chicken Charlie's owner Charlie Bohosian, who in the past has become known for fair staples such as deep-fried Kool-aid, totally fried Oreos and deep-fried Twinkies.

The daring foodie will also introduce deep-fried filet mignon, a ramen burrito and chocolate pasta with Nutella. As for which meal period the latter dish belongs to, well, Boghosian said it's up to the eater whether he or she wants to consider it dinner or dessert.

When asked about what inspires his inventive food, Bohosian said he feels the need to outdo himself every year.

"I love to cook, and I love to create,” he said. "Nothing turns me on more than people's faces when they come up to our booth, are surprised, take pictures and share our creations with their family and friends. It's so exciting for me to see that I created something that people are mesmerized by."

Bacon-wrapped, deep-fried baklava from The Mediterranean Brittany Woolsey

But Chicken Charlie's isn't the only vendor getting crazy this year. The Mediterranean will introduce two special types of baklava. While the sweet Greek pastry is normally comprised of filo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey, co-partner Catherine Behrend decided to mix in bacon for a sweet and savory rendition. The vendor, which is celebrating its 45th year with the fair, will feature bacon-wrapped, deep-fried baklava and bacon-topped baklava.

"We love bacon," said co-partner Ted Platis. "Everybody at the fair loves bacon. It kind of seemed like a perfect mix."

The Mediterranean will also introduce the falafel waffle, a healthier take on the chickpea-based dish as it is made on a waffle iron instead of deep fried.

Several food stands will also introduce unicorn-themed foods this year. Pink's Hot Dogs will offer the “Unicorn Dog,” a variation of their famous weenies with colorful onions, and Bacon A-Fair will serve the Unicorn Party Pineapple, a Fireball Whisky-infused pineapple slice with bacon. TastiChips will introduce Unicorn Fries, Unicorn Chips and a Unicorn Burger.

Hot dogs
Hot dogs from Pink's Hot Dogs Brittany Woolsey

The fair will also provide various entertainment throughout its duration. Highlights include a seven-minute virtual reality tour of San Diego, an Asian Festival on June 2, a celebration for the LBGTQ+ community on June 9 and several wine, beer and cocktail festivals. Sugarland, Capital Cities, Kansas, The Fray and Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias are just some of the big names on this year's Corona Grandstand Stage lineup.

The San Diego County Fair opens June 1 at 4 p.m. and runs through July 4, except for Mondays and Tuesdays in June. Admission is $19 for adults; $12 for kids 12 and under and seniors; and free for kids 5 and under.

Attendees can cash in on sweet deals, like discount admission from Vons and Albertsons, as well as free admission for all kids 12 and under every Friday.

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