With the revelry of Independence Day behind us, that means only one thing: the Orange County Fair is just around the corner! This year the fair runs from July 16 to August 15 and is open Wednesday through Sunday – check the OC Fair’s website for daily schedules, promotions, and entertainment.
I’ve always been a fan of the fair and hope that the sale of the fairgrounds doesn’t endanger one of the few homages to traditional Americana that we have here in the southland. The great thing about the fair is that you can enjoy it purely as a spectator, or you can become an active participant by entering one of the myriad competitions and just possibly create a memorable experience that you’ll remember fondly for years to come.
A lot of people take fair competitions very seriously, but you can do it just for FUN! Especially for children, being an entrant adds a whole new dimension that’s rewarding and definitely extends enjoyment beyond the thrill of the gravity-defying rides and eating the latest deep-fried marvel: thinking about what to enter, the preparation, meeting the deadline, delivering your entry to the fair before it opens for the day; and best of all – the competition and finding your entry to see if you’ve won a ribbon!
In the past, I would be at the fair at 7:00 a.m. at least one or two of the Tuesday mornings to enter tomatoes, green beans, or zucchini in the fruit and vegetable category. In fact, I was a blue ribbon winner for green beans for several years running and Chloe has been a winner in the agricultural area and a multiple winner in the juvenile art category over the years. This year, I’m looking forward to being a judge in the sweet and savory tart category – woohoo!!
Entering homegrown vegetables, baked goods, artwork, collections, etc. to be judged at the fair is a fantastic, rewarding summer activity for kids (and adults). Youth categories include: Photography, Crafts, Service Projects, Fine Art, Jewelry, Collections, Creative Writing, Foods, Table Setting, Farm & Garden, Floral and Livestock. And the best part is you don’t have to be Best of Class, there are categories for the Largest and Ugliest and, besides reinforcing some old fashioned values and knowing where food really originates from, your kids will get a big kick out of running over to the agriculture section to see their homegrown lemons or whatever on display and discovering whether they won a first, second, or honorable mention ribbon. A lot of honorable mentions are given, so your chances of earning a ribbon are pretty good!
Don’t miss the Centennial Farms area nearby where kids can get close to some real farm animals and be sure to make your way towards the back where, if we’re lucky, there’s a mother pig who has recently given birth and you can watch the antics of the tiny piglets.