The Orange County fair is takes place July 15th – August 14th. This years theme “Let’s Eat” is inspired by our habit of turning food matter into usable energy. In line with the theme, the fair features a variety of food items either fried or dipped in chocolate. (Perhaps next year it will be both fried AND dipped in chocolate?) You can find fried oreos, fried kool-aid, fried butter, fried brownies, fried klondike bars, chocolate covered bacon, or chocolate covered corn dogs. You can see that fried food is to the fair as candy corn is to Halloween.
There is more to the fair than the food (and the strange individuals that eat the food). We found enough to do to occupy almost four hours. One highlight is the Ice Museum at the Green Gate entrance. The line grows pretty quickly so you want to get there early (or be patient). We didn’t wait in line, but we were able to see a few of the pieces by looking into the windows. You can find some elephants nearby, and if you keep strolling along you run into the livestock section. Satisfy your yearly barn animal fix on goats, sheep, and rabbits, then stop by the pig bard to see some oxen. (Why not just rename it the oxen barn?).
The main mall features interesting exhibits on crafts, woodworking, photography, paintings, and food. Nearby is the “parade of products” the “festival of products” and the “carnival of products”. Think of this as the door to door salesman section except instead of them coming to you you can come to them. The Park Plaza is nearby featuring the “Beauty and the Feast exhibit”. I wouldn’t really bother with that one, but stroll along a bit to the Centennial Farm section and check out an interesting gallery of collections (and floral exhibits). You might want to stop by the Centennial Farm itself, since it is the only place in the fair where you can find healthy food (granted, its still growing in the ground). Lastly, there is a collection of bonsai trees nearby. It was small, but reminded me of my dream to one day have a backyard bonsai garden.
Admission is only $2 if you visit from 10-11am on the weekends. Admission seems to be free if you have concert tickets, and you can sometimes find tickets cheaper than the admission price on Goldstar. You can find gourmet food trucks on Thursdays (if you are interested in joining in on the latest craze).
Total cost: $11 per ticket (or $2 per ticket from 10-11am on Saturday and Sunday) + $7 parking + food and fun
Address: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, California