Endless Summer in San Diego

Photo by: Leadenhall

Summer officially is here when the San Diego County Fair opens at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in mid-June.  The site was constructed in 1936 with a half-million dollar grant from the Works Progress Administration.

An all-time attendance record was set this year, with the 1,412,113 visitors enjoying the variety of livestock, endless arts and crafts exhibits, professional garden displays, super-duper carnival rides, and top-notch entertainment.

And then there’s the food.  The most popular item was “Deep Fried Kool Aid.”  I have no idea what that is, but 100,000 people tried it.

The second half of the summer revolves around thoroughbred horse racing where the “turf meets the surf” in Del Mar.

Same locale; different crowd.

Blogging about last year’s season, Del Mar Racing Thoroughbred Club CEO, Joe Harper, wrote, “Horses, hats, silicone and spandex.  It was all here and hanging out.  Sports stars, politicians, celebrities and wannabes.”

“Hats” refer to the “One and Only Fabulous Hats Contest” on opening day, a popular tradition started in 1995.  Participants, which include a good portion of the female contingent, compete in four categories:  best racing theme, funniest or most outrageous, most glamorous, and best flowers.  The Bing Crosby Grand Prize winner earns two round trip airline vouchers, courtesy of American Airlines.

Less than two weeks later, women over forty vie to become Miss Cougar Del Mar.  This competition was first held three years ago to showcase the Cougar II Handicap Race, Del Mar’s longest event at one and a half miles.

“Cougar” is urban slang for a woman who looks young, dresses young, and dates young, usually men eight years or more her junior.   Some feel it is a derogatory term, but that doesn’t damper the enthusiasm of the contestants.

Photo by: Bill Gracey

Miss Cougar 2009, Rosie Goldstein, wore a strapless red and white dress the day she was awarded the title.  “I hold my head up proud,” she emphatically stated.  “I have never felt more beautiful than this year.”  Exactly what year it was she didn’t say.

Miss Cougar 2010, CC Perkinson, believes that being a cougar “empowers women to keep a healthy mind and a healthy body.”  It’s good to realize “there’s men out there that are attracted to you.”

The four finalists for Miss Cougar 2011 have not yet been selected.  They will each receive clubhouse admission for a day at the races and VIP concert passes for later that evening.  The winner also has the honor of presenting the trophy for the Handicap.

The deadline for applications is July 24, so there’s still time to send in a photo and explanation of your qualifications.  My motto: if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Hats off to the ladies of summer.


© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved