It’s that time of year again… time for the Orange County Fair! And the 2015 OC Fair is bigger and better than ever to celebrate its 125th anniversary. The theme: “One Big Party!” and if you haven’t been yet, you’re totally missing out on what LA even admits one-ups their facsimile of this American tradition with 32 years to the OC’s advantage (beginning in 1889 vs. 1922 for LA).
I’m not writing about the wacky fried food this year because everyone does that and there’s plenty more less gut-busting things to enjoy that you should know about.
The Midway: a crazy cacophony of scream-inducing rides for adrenaline junkies – not for the little ones or the faint of heart.
Evolution ride (photo credit OC Fair)
Free Music and Action Sports: musical tributes to rock and pop legends plus original bands in The Hangar and extreme entertainment like Moto-X, Monster Trucks, Extreme Rodeo, Martial Arts, and Demolition Derby in the Action Sports Arena from July 17-August 16 (Wed.-Sun.) Tickets are on sale now and, as always, include free Fair admission. Concert tickets for The Hangar and reserved seats for Action Sports Arena may be purchased at the OC Fair & Event Center Box Office at the Pacific Amphitheatre, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
My pick: Motor Home Madness
Usually, there is a sow with little piglets that draws a major crowd.
Another favorite: The Pig Races. (photo credit OC Fair)
Art & Craft Exhibits: Children are amazed by the artwork created by kids their own age, and you might start thinking of entering your junior Matisse’s artwork in the competion next year. We did this every year while College Girl was in elementary and middle school – then she graduated to performing on stage with budding rock stars from Huntington Beach High School’s Academy of Performing Arts.
Besides cultural exposure, the exhibit halls filled with award-winning photographs, paintings, ceramics, woodworking also provide respite from the blazing heat during the day. My favorite photograph from last year was entitled “Curiosity” by Royce Hutain.
Curiosity by Royce Hutain
Fairgoers can stay cool at the OC Fair’s newest feature, Fairhenheit 32°. This area has a real ice skating rink and an Ice Museum. Skate rental fees apply and guests are not permitted to bring their own skates. Viewing of the Ice Museum is free with Fair admission.
The Promenade is home to all things culinary. Check out the winning pies and cakes, tabletop entries, and culinary demonstrations:
Chef Challenge: Cooking With the Elements
Watch local culinary professionals show off their chops and go head-to-head in a series of live cooking challenges of cooking with an element: July 18 (Earth), July 25 (Water), August 1 (Air) and August 8 (Fire). Each challenge is at 7 p.m. in the OC Promenade and is free to watch with Fair admission.
Live Culinary Arts Contests
Each Saturday, local cooks and chefs will submit their culinary masterpieces to be judged in the only live-judging Culinary Arts competition. Each Saturday contest has a unique theme and contestants register the Wednesday before each contest. New themes for 2014 include: Eating Smart Starts Here (July 19) and Fairtastic Food (August 9).
Still, the most popular attraction is the array of mind-blowing fair food – culinary concoctions that you can only find at a place with a giant ferris wheel!
Like the Big Daddy Corn Dog pictured below, the mega Turkey Leg, and long-time favorite Tasti Chips below. Have no fear, if you don’t want to blow your healthy eating regimen, there’s always the roasted corn (several locations), Terri’s Berry’s near Crafter’s Village has lots of fruit (with our without chocolate!), and Biggy’s Meat Market offers gluten-free options this summer with gluten-free hamburger buns, fries and The Big Rib – paleo and gluten free!
Big Daddy Corn Dog
Dominic Palmieri (Biggies Meat Market)
The Orange County Fair runs from July 17 – August 16 and is open Wednesday-Friday Noon-Midnight and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-Midnight. Single-day admission is General $12, Senior (60+) / Youth (6-12) $7 and children 5 and younger and active-duty military and veterans with ID are free every day. Concert tickets, action sports reserved seats, single-day general admission and the popular Super Pass are available for purchase online at ocfair.com or from the on-site Box Office. Free parking and shuttle service are available on Saturdays and Sundays from the Experian parking structure located off the Bristol St. exit of the 405 freeway. Also, download the free OC Fair iPhone and Android apps available this summer.
Opening photo courtesy of OC Fair