Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, CA
Ladies and gentlemen, today's update is a little overdue--not just because I had originally planned to post this on Thursday, but because it comes from the OC Fair, which enters its third weekend of its 2017 season. Then again, last year, we skipped the fair entirely due to lack of time, so I suppose this is an improvement. Anyway, it's that time of the year when the Orange County Fair comes to town. One of the larger fairs around, this yearly tradition is packed with everything you'd find at a county fair--animals, exhibits, performances, terrible food, and plenty of fair rides. This year's theme is "Farm Fresh Fun," and it's brought quite a menagerie of things to see. Such a menagerie that this update has literally hundreds of photos. Are you ready? Sit back, load up, and lets go check out what the fair has to offer this year!
Located just to the right of the Blue Entrance (which is the closest thing to the main entrance of the park, Centennial Farm is logically home to a variety of farm animals and livestock. This area is quite family oriented, and many of the animals on display are in family units, and there is a good number of baby animals to amuse the litte ones or inspire fawning over from big kids.
Since it's a farm, there's plenty of pretty greenery around the area. Flowers and crops create a colorful palette.
The Farm also has an exhibit for the plant arrangement competition. There are actually a pretty good number of submissions here--each a unique and interesting arrangement. For those who like layout houseplants and general garden vegetation, this is a great area for them!
Additionally, the Farm encompasses a vendor village that features a variety of wares being hawked.
Newly opened just earlier this year, Heroes Hall is a permanent part of the OC Fairgrounds. It's a museum that tells the stories of military veterans, from those who fought in the infamous wars of our nation's history to modern day veterans. The museum has rotating exhibits, but common across all of them are items carried by servicemen (and women) during deployment. These are used to tell the stories of each featured military member. It's a nice locale to learn more about the troops, and it's pretty cool that the fair has incorporate this type of history-telling space!
Throughout the OC Fair run, the Pacific Amphitheater has a special concert series featuring well known musical acts. The amphitheater was finally finished renovated a couple of years ago, and the plaza area certainly looks fresh and new.
One of the two amusement park ride area of the fair, the Family Fairway is more aimed at the younger crowd not quite big or brave enough to ride the "big boy" rides over in the Carnival. There are some fun attractions here as well.
While most of the fair is largely the same year after year, the Main Mall is much more fluid. With the bulk of the fair's competition exhibits and a product hall that can be entertaining to just observe, this is usually where I spend the bulk majority of my time on my fair visits. There's a lot of things to see here, so lets break this down into parts.
Carnival/Parade/Festival of Products
This is basically a giant expo or swap meet. Looking for trinkets or random crafts? How about things you might see on TV infomercials? How about the latest home accessory products, or perhaps a massage? You can find all that and more in three halls on the west half of the Main Mall here!
Crafts and Collections
Proof that there's a niche for everyone, and every interest has its enthusiasts, the crafts and collections part of the Main Mall features a lot of... interesting... items. While I certainly admire the literal handiwork required to make these things, sometimes I wonder just what a person's life is like so that their deep hobbies and interests overlap the items on display here. Sometimes, there are quite bizarre features!
Conversely, there's the woodworking area, which legitimately thoroughly impresses me each year. The meticulous detail, the carving skill, and the finished products are all pretty amazing, and there some truly incredible works of art here. As a judged exhibit, there are always a small group of winners that seem to rise above the crop, but frankly, everything honestly looks like a winner here, because the artistry is quite magnificent.
There's a lot that goes on in this area. From cookie, cake, and sweet competitions proudly displayed in glass cases to a feature on olive oils to table place setting contests, this is the place for those interested in everything and anything related to the kitchen or dining room. I'm constantly fascinated by the quirky themes of the table settings and, simultaneously, how serious it seems to be taken despite the often absurd execution so the table setting themes. The treats look might delicious. And there are even contests and performances that take place throughout the day.
My favorite part of the Main Hall is consistently the Visual Arts hall which features 2D and 3D art work plus the photography exhibit (my favorite overall). It's a feast for the eyes--literally. There's plenty of eye candy from the literally thousands to entrants who display their submitted photos or paintings or sculptures or sketches or other media. First, lets check out the artwork. As in previous years, there's a feature exhibit with works from professional artists in the middle, while user submitted content is on one side.
Then, lets take a quick perusal of the photography area. It's a bit weird to take pictures of photos, especially since the glossy prints often reflect the exhibition area spotlights, but I will say that the quality of the photos at the OC Fair is generally pretty good. The process is very competitive, and the fair rejects thousands of entries every year. Most of those who make it to the fair itself are certainly deserving.
This was in the collections area, but I wanted to split it off and specifically freak you out or make you very uneasy. Cuz, you know... creepy dolls.
On the northeast side of the fair is another animal area, featuring livestock also. I'm not quite sure why there are two animal areas on opposite sides of the fairgrounds, but this part also features animals raised by agricultural components of local schools. Cows, chickens, pigs, goats, rabbits, turkeys, and more... it's quite a cornucopia of animals!
On a slightly related topic, you can't go to the fair without trying some of the atrociously bad for you food that seems designed to instantly clog arteries. Every year, there seems to be a new weird item that people have to try despite the fact that the combinations seem to be terrible idea. Though I didn't see that many unique items, what's offered was still reasonably ridiculous. Here's a look at some of the eats.
Finally, just as a county fair must have terrible food, so must it have a collection of rides. Such is the case with the OC Fair, which has its fair share of portable roller coasters, spinny thrill rides, corny dark rides, and such. I ran through twice during my visit last week to get day and nighttime photos. So enjoy!
As you can see, there can be plenty of things to do at the Orange County Fair, and even if you're not interested in everything offered, there's probably a few things that could hold your attention for a little bit.
The OC Fair runs through Sunday, August 13th. Admission is $12/adult, plus ride tickets and any other purchases inside. You can get all the information you need at the OC Fair web site. Going to the county fair is a summer tradition, so throw your hat in an American pastime!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.