By Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
Del Mar Fairgrounds host largest LGBT ‘OUT’ event
Out at the Fair, coming to the San Diego County Fair on June 9, is now one of the largest “Out” events in the region.
Out at the Fair started from a simple Facebook post in 2011 from William Zakrajshek, WZ Productions and Caleb Wilkins that asked people to join them at the San Diego County Fair for the first-ever “Unofficial Gay Days.” In its second year, with an extended Facebook invitation, more than 135 people accepted the request. The Del Mar Fairgrounds took notice — they met them on the day of the event and handed out pins as a form of celebration.
This is when Zakrajshek met Luis Valdivia, Del Mar Fairgrounds Multicultural Marketing specialist. The two have worked together to create what now draws tens of thousands of people each year.
“We started working with community partners at The Center, San Diego PRIDE [and] South Bay PRIDE to develop the format of Out at the Fair so it would match the other LGBTQ ‘out’ events here in San Diego,” said Zakrajshek. “From there we have progressively grown every year, adding new content every year, trying to bring in new elements to the fair. Along with more entertainment for the whole family, we’ve added a LGBTQ art exhibit. These artists rarely get the chance to have their art displayed for such a large audience.”
Last year, WZ Productions expanded outside of San Diego to the California State Fair, as well as extending out of state to the New Mexico State Fair. It has been rapidly expanding since. WZ Productions earned the 2018 Barham Award from the Western Fairs Association. The award — which they won for producing Out at the Fair — is based on innovation, leadership and quality in the service member division. WZ Productions is the first LGBTQ company to earn this award.
Luis Valdivia said the number one goal in this event that it is 100 percent family friendly. During the growth of this event, he noticed that the community not only embraced it, but wanted to be a part of it. This included sensitivity training to all county fair senior staff and anyone who has front line contact with the public. Specifically, the LGBT community addressed them about the subject of all gender restrooms.
Valdivia works with Kathie Moehlig with TransFamily Support Services to offer sensitivity training.
“It has been fascinating to watch,” Valdivia said. “We have had no major issues. During the first year of sensitivity training, one of our ambassadors came out as transgender during the training because it inspired him. This is more than just a fun event. It’s really touching. This event was meant to tell the public that anyone is welcome here and this has gone beyond the one day.
“We now see more same sex couples holding hands during any day of the fair,” he continued. “This has really helped us position the fair and an LGBT-friendly event and the fairgrounds as an LGBT-friendly venue. We are all about multi-culturalism, diversity and inclusion. This fair and this [‘Out at the Fair’] event is for everyone regardless of your background.”
For more information, shuttle services and tickets, visit outatthefair.com.
— Albert Fulcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.