OC Fair invites guests to “Feel the Sunshine” as some (not all) pandemic practices recede
organizer of Orange County Fair invite visitors to “Feel the Sunshine” once again as a full schedule of celebrations returns after a major pandemic cancellation in 2020 and a changed event last year.
The Costa Mesa Fairgrounds was a scene of activity on Friday as dealers, concessionaires and assembly teams prepared the grounds for the show, which opens July 15 and runs Wednesday through Sunday through August 14.
“There’s a great sense of anticipation for something really great,” said Michele Richards, executive director of the host OC Fair & Event Center, on Friday. “It’s looking good out there.”
Richards explained that this year’s theme was chosen to represent community members coming together to come together and celebrate under slightly more “normal” circumstances after two years of disruption and COVID-19 protocols.
But while most of the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, some of the processes and practices adopted during last year’s adjusted fair remain in place for the time being.
For example, tickets must be purchased online in advance as entry is still “contactless” and daily attendance remains capped at 45,000 guests. According to Richards, the cap isn’t because of COVID-19, but because vendors and guests had an overall better experience when crowds were reduced last year.
“Some of the things we learned last year is how convenient touchless is [transactions] can be,” Richards said. “We’re keeping a lot of that because it’s a better guest experience.”
Another enhancement to this year’s guest experience will be the reopening of the exhibition center. Action sports arena and its many adrenaline-pumping events, including monster truck rallies, the return of the Costa Mesa Speedway, demolition derbies, and the relocation of Hee Haw brew Craft beer and music festival on July 15th and 16th.
As always, there will be plenty of new opportunities to enjoy a menu of incredible treats, as visitors can discover Kool-Aid chicken sandwiches, cotton candy sundaes and pitch-black milkshakes made with food activated charcoal.
The fairground Centenary farm There will be lively activity as two sows are expected to give birth to piglets at some point during the event.
“I can’t predict when because Mother Nature is in charge, but we will have baby piglets at the event,” Richards promised.
Despite returning to some semblance of normalcy, lingering signs of ongoing coronavirus will be evident. County health workers will be on site weekdays offering information and free COVID-19 vaccines.
Richard said visitors who are more comfortable wearing face masks are welcome to do so, although there is currently no indoor or outdoor mask requirement under Orange County Health Care Agency guidelines.
“We strongly encourage people who are unvaccinated to wear a mask, especially indoors,” she added. “[And] If you’re sick, stay home for heaven’s sake.”
Although online purchase is required this year, all associated fees have been waived, meaning adult tickets are $12 on Wednesday-Thursday and $14 Friday-Sunday.
Richards encouraged people to pick a date and secure tickets in advance as some days are sure to sell out.
“Last year the fair was sold out on 17 out of 23 days,” she said. “So people have to get their tickets online and in advance.”
For more information, see ocfair.com.
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