IRVINE, Calif.—Live concerts are returning to center stage as the 2021 Orange County Fair after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the pause button on live performances.
Ongoing confusion swirling around capacity and large venue safety guidelines resulted in some venues booking further out or closer than others. It has left many venues trying to schedule appealing lineups at the last minute, a feat of alignment that requires both the band and the venue’s ability to adjust and pivot around the economy opening back up, travel schedules, and availability of crew.
“We have already played two fairs this month, one in Wisconsin and one in Oregon, and we’re playing the fair in Paso Robles, California, this week,” Steve Schenck, agent for the Blue Oyster Cult, told The Epoch Times.
Schenck, who has been with the band for more than four decades and is “reasonably certain that at some point I have held every possible job description” with the band, said Blue Oyster Cult’s on-the-go fair tour will continue throughout the summer with performances in New York, Maryland, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, and more. The iconic band will take center stage at the Pacific Amphitheater on Aug. 11, in a concert also featuring Cheap Trick.
Despite pandemic shutdown limitations and concert cancellations, Schenck said Blue Oyster Cult and its road team adjusted to venue restrictions and some awkward touring schedule adjustments.
“We never completely shut down [during the pandemic],” Schenck said. “Last year and early 2021, we did a handful of ‘socially distanced’ events, things like a drive-in show in New Hampshire, an outdoor show at a Pennsylvania winery, private events with limited capacity at a Michigan casino, and limited access/pod setup shows in Wisconsin and Florida.
“That said, it’s nice to be back to our ‘regularly scheduled programming.’”
Other familiar bands, well-known solo performers, and a plethora of tribute acts have filled the fair’s 2021 Toyota Summer Concert Series. New acts are still being added as talent availability emerges.
Know Before You Go
For the first time in its history, the Orange County Fair sold out on July 17, and fair officials predict sell-out days will continue due to this year’s limited capacity that has been capped at 45,000 visitors per day.
However, ticketholders for concerts and shows at the Pacific Amphitheater and The Hangar will still have access to same-day fair admission for performances taking place through the end of the fair on Aug. 15.
Fairgoers are encouraged to plan ahead, since advance online ticket purchases are required (no transaction fees will be applied). Tickets are good only for the date purchased, and no refunds will be issued. Masks are required indoors for unvaccinated guests.
This year there will be a reduced number of attractions at the fair, and booths and food vendors will be spaced out to accommodate social distancing.
The Orange County Fair runs through Aug. 15, Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are available at OCFair.com.