COSTA MESA, Calif.—While the highly anticipated 2021 Orange County Fair may be over, the “Time for Fun” theme still resonates, as there’s plenty going on at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa through Sept. 23.
Concerts under the stars are continuing, with upcoming shows in Pacific Amphitheatre including:
Aug. 20 – Colbie Caillat / Natasha Bedingfield / Diana DeMuth
Aug. 21- “Toy Story” with the Pacific Symphony (the animated movie will be shown during the concert)
Aug. 22 – Ramon Ayala / Enigma Norteno
Aug. 25 – Goo Goo Dolls / Sister Hazel
Aug. 26 – Flaming Lips / Greer
Sept. 2 – Chase Rice / Breland
Sept. 11 – Pacific Symphony will perform Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture, complete with pyrotechnics, in Pacific Amphitheatre. Tickets are available via pacificsymphony.org.
Sept. 23 – Country artist Hank Williams Jr. will close out the season at Pacific Amphitheatre when he performs with special guest Jackson Dean. Tickets are for sale on Ticketmaster.
County Fair Recap
Although COVID-19 restrictions and precautions were implemented by fair organizers this year, it didn’t seem to deter fans. Advanced tickets were required for the first time to meet limited daily capacity numbers, and 16 of the 23 fair days were completely sold out, with 45,000 tickets sold daily.
A slightly slimmed down array of booths and attractions to make room for more distancing still wowed fans who were treated to longer hours and 2019 admission and parking prices. While more than one million guests came out for the fun this year, there was a drop from the 2019 attendance of 1,393,482 guests.
Fried twinkies and carnival rides weren’t the only attractions. In total, there were 3,091 entries that competed for blue ribbons, including 1,722 cut flower entries and 1,360 fruit and vegetable entries, with a total of 331 exhibitors.
More than 2.5 million carnival rides were enjoyed by fairgoers, including favorites like Skyride, La Grande Wheel XL, Euroslide, Rave Wave and Titan. More than 30,000 Fast Passes were sold at the carnival, allowing carnival goers rapid access to games and rides galore.
A total of 100 semi-trailer loads full of stuffed toys were received at the fair to be awarded to carnival game winners. The No. 1 most-requested prize for the past five years remained Pokemon and Nemo, with new favorite items including Squishmallows and Bob Ross stuffed dolls.
“It was really hard to decide between them,” said 7-year-old Olivia from Buena Park who carefully contemplated a choice between a huge brightly colored teddy bear with a bow around its neck and a bright orange Nemo stuffed fish.
When asked why she ultimately chose the Nemo stuffed animal, she replied with a toothy smile, “Because I think my baby brother will like it better when he gets a little older.”
When asked which horse she picked to ride on the carousel, without skipping a beat she excitedly pointed and said “the one with the big flowy mane!” Oh, to be a kid at the fair once more.
Fair-goers munched on 75,900 chocolate chip cookies that were baked from scratch at Mom’s Bakeshoppe, using one ton of flour, two tons of brown sugar, more than 100 pounds of margarine, 4,600 eggs, and a whopping 1,062,600 mini chocolate chips.
Ten pallets of Oreos were deep-fried at RCS food stands, along with enough Flaming Hot Cheetos to fill two swimming pools, which were on the list of Biggy’s food items. They reported that their top three food items were corn dogs, deep-fried Oreos, and pizza slices.
In addition, 10,000 avocados, 10,000 waffle cones, and more than 10,000 Oreo cookies were served up at Chicken Charlie’s stands throughout the fairgrounds.
A total of 9,404 kids took advantage of the Read & Ride program and received 28,212 free carnival rides for reading books and writing or drawing reports.
Three-hundred volunteers created 1,200 jars of canned fresh produce, the results of work from University of California Extension (UCCE) Master Food Preservers.
This year saw the sale of 103 animals, with agriculture students receiving $131,898 through the Junior Livestock Auction.