Though it is the largest event held in Balboa Park every year, the future of this year’s Earth Fair is in doubt. About 60,000 people flock to Balboa Park to celebrate Mother Earth during Earth Fair, which is held in late April. Event founder and CEO Carolyn Chase said she was recently told by the city that due to anticipated construction on the Plaza de Panama project, this year’s Earth Fair would have to be moved. “We’ve provided solutions to all the concerns that they’ve raised and we really don’t understand why they think they’re going to have any conflict with the construction whatsoever,” Chase said.
However, the city paints a different picture. “Perhaps Ms. Chase believes that she has been able to accommodate all the concerns,” said Irene McCormack, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bob Filner’s office. “City staff who really are the experts on this have said that it doesn’t look like they’re going to be able to accommodate her in that spot.” That spot is the heart of the park. It stretches from the large tree behind the Natural History Museum on the northeast to the Air and Space Museum on the southwest. Earth Fair has been held in the central part of the park since 1990. McCormack said a big part of the city’s concern is that the parking lot behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion will be torn up, taking away lots of parking spaces. Chase said that would not be a problem. “They’re worried that they can’t get this parking lot done in two years and that… I think they have bigger problems with this project if it’s about one 12-hour segment,” said Chase, who was referring to the fact the Earth Fair is just a one-day event.
So far, the city is sticking to its guns: no Earth Fair in the central part of the park. “We really believe if construction’s going on at that time, we don’t want to interfere with the construction with a huge event such as Earth Day,” said McCormack. The city wants this year’s Earth Fair to move to the western side of the park bordering Sixth Avenue. Chase said that option will not work due to a lack of ways to get exhibits as well as people in and out. However, nothing is set in stone yet. Chase is scheduled to meet with Filner on Monday afternoon to try and persuade him to overrule city staff.
Original Artcile can be viewed at San Diego’s Channel 10 News Network