The San Bernardino County Fair reopened for the first time in nearly two years, after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Even though pandemic-related restrictions are in place, with temperatures close to 100 degrees on Memorial Day, most visitors were not wearing masks. But with vaccinations continuing and crowd levels being capped at 7,500 people, few people said they were concerned.
"It's a lot of social anxiety," said Autumn Kardash of Victorville. "But it's so nice to get out of the house and do something. Honestly, I hated being cooped up like that."
Some fairgoers said the reopening of the San Bernardino County Fair was a much-needed return to normal.
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"(It's) getting us back out here, and kind of being able to live life," said Jason Purely of Apple Valley. "We were just talking about it earlier, all of this time we spent in the house has put a damper on the family."
Organizers made a last-minute decision to offer free admission to all members of the military, Armed Forces veterans and first responders. If eligible persons already purchased tickets, administrators say they can save those tickets for another day.
Earlier this year, there were doubts as to whether the fair would even be able to reopen again. The fair was pulled together in just about five weeks with help from Helm and Sons Amusement. The theme is "Reunite at the SBC Fair."
"It is just going to be a smaller scale," said Jennifer Monter, CEO of the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds. "We will still have live music, we will still have all the food vendors, commercial vendors for the people who want to shop, livestock and, of course, the carnival."
The fair, which began May 29, will be held over three consecutive weekends.
Unlike in years past, the process to purchase tickets will be streamlined and contact-free, using a mobile app.
"Instead of waiting in lines in the parking lot and the ticket booth and the admission booth, you simply walk in, go right to your stuff start having fun," said Davy Helm CEO Helm & Sons. "Everything is streamlined."