Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ventura Counry Fairgrounds, 10 Harbor Blvd., Ventura, CA

The fairgrounds, originally deeded to the city of San Buenaventura by H.P. Foster in the 1800's, was then quit-claimed to the state back in the early part of the last century, taking it out of local control forever.(1)

Located on the beach in Ventura, site of the annual Ventura County Fair, Ventura County Fairgrounds is easy to find on US Hwy 101, only 30 miles from Santa Barbara and 60 miles from Los Angeles.

Rock history was made at the Ventura County Fairgrounds on July 21, 1970.
June 21, 1970
James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix graced the stage at Ventura County Fairgrounds just two months before his untimely death on September 18, 1970 at age 27.
Hendrix generated a stir here in Ventura – as cops were called and fifteen were arrested for trying to crash the gates.
This  article from the Ventura County Star-Free Press, on July 22, 1970 reads,
“The Jimi Hendrix Experience rock concert drew an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 4,000 last night at the county fairgrounds in Ventura.  Another group of 400 youths tried to crash the gates for free entry and a small conflict between them and 80 policemen and sheriff’s deputies erupted.  The youths threw rocks and bottles at police; no one was hurt.  Fifteen were arrested for unlawful assembly.”(2)

"The venue itself was a large rodeo ring with raised covered bleachers on one side. When you passed the parking lot and through the gate single file, you had your choice of turning right into the ring (floor seats, so to speak), or left into the shaded bleachers. It became a habit for us to spend at least the first set in the shaded bleachers, as the vantage and scenery were great and one could watch every one of those hundreds of different Dead-shirts (commercial and home-made) as they walked into the arena and eventually reached seething critical mass at showtime. Behind us was the point and Pacific Ocean. To our right (southeast) was the Holiday Inn and parking lot and ocean. In front of us was the rodeo ring and a few small buildings, the train tracks and freeway, then the small town of Ventura petering up into the scrub hills. To the left was the stage at the end of the ring, behind which was palm trees, a train trestle over a lagoon, and ocean beyond that."(3)

In 2010, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an unprecedented move, announced a deal to sell the Ventura County Fairgrounds to Caruso Affiliated for $58 million dollars. The transaction was mentioned during a speech by the governor before real estate professionals in Sacramento.(1)

Jerry performed here on
7/17/82 Grateful Dead
7/18/82 Grateful Dead
7/30/83 Grateful Dead
"...during "I Know You Rider": the Band, with a consistently strong breeze blowing back their hair (and greatly marring the sound quality of these recordings), behind whom arched palm trees framing a passing Northbound train on the hillside a few hundred yards back of stage, its headlamp lit, perfectly on cue."(4)

7/31/83 Grateful Dead
7/21/84 Grateful Dead
7/22/84 Grateful Dead
7/13/85 Grateful Dead
7/14/85 Grateful Dead
6/12/87 Grateful Dead
6/13/87 Grateful Dead
6/14/87 Grateful Dead
"They stopped Space 1/2 way through and all sang "Hey Hey we're The Monkee's, and people say we Monkee around!!" and then just resumed like nothing ever happened - a truly mind-melting freakout."(5)
"...during Wharf Rat this dude behind asked questions prior to every line Jerry sang, 'where'd ya go?' 'wandered downtown down to take look around'. 'who'd ya see?' Bonnie lee."(6)

7/31/92 Jerry Garcia Band
5/14/94 Jerry Garcia Band

1.)^Codarini, Joseph, Ventura County Fairgrounds sold to Caruso Affiliated, 2010-04-01,
2.)^Back In The Day in Ventura County 1970: Fifteen arrested at The Jimi Hendrix Experience Show at Ventura County Fairgrounds,
3.)^jacksondownunda, comments, 2007-11-12,
4.)^Joby, comments, 2004-07-12,
5.)^richthephotog, comments, 2007-07-09,
6.)^bolted, comments, 2011-01-27,


  1. It believe JGB also played here in 1994.

  2. saw jerry for his birthday shows around his birthday in 94 there.

  3. hey hey
    the california coastal records project does periodic flyovers the coast.
    the ventura venue is captured in these. you can see it as it changes over 40yrs.
    high resolution aerial pics of the campgrounds and venue.

  4. I attended the Hendrix concert at the fairgrounds in 1970 and it didn't go well besides the issues with the people outside the gate. (People outside were allowed in for 99 cents in the end) But apparently the entire event was unorganized. Jimi came on earlier than he was supposed to, the sound system wasn't right, so he only played a few songs then disappeared into the back of a van and took off. I was still thrilled to have seen him though.

    1. it was an awesome concert... I was right up front and I knew he was mad... he sounded pretty damn good to me but of course we've been listening to vinyl... Ball'nJack closed the show... what an awesome Ventura County night

  5. Did either of you gentleman record Jimi that night?