The Orange County Fair is one of the biggest and most beloved annual events in Southern California. The 2011 fair was an ode to "gastronomical adventures" and features lots of food-related events, including a $2-a-taste smorgasbord. The 2012 O.C. Fair is scheduled for July 13 - August 12 with "Home Sweet Home" as the theme. Additional details on the 2012 Fair will be added as they become available. Visit the OC Fair website for more information on fair events and attractions. Here's a basic guide to the Fair and 2011 fair highlights.A Brief History
The Orange County Fair started in 1890 when a small community group hosted a local fair, featuring a few exhibits and horse races in Santa Ana. In those early days, the Fair consisted of mostly livestock exhibits and horse races -- until carnival attractions were added in the early 1900s. By 1925 the Fair was moved to Anaheim and included a rodeo, a carnival and other things now considered typical of the county fair.
In 1949, the Fair was held at its current location at the O.C. Fair and Event Center, in what was later incorporated as Costa Mesa. The Fairgrounds have been the home of the O.C. Fair now for more than 60 years.Admission Details
The fair kicks off with free admission and parking from noon to 1 p.m. on opening day. General admission is $11, seniors get in for $8, and kids between the ages of 6-12 get in for $8. For those hardcore O.C. Fair fans, there is Super Pass, which is sort of like fair season tickets and offers special benefits.Summer Concert Series
Starting Friday, July 15, there is a concert at the Pacific Amphitheatre every day the fair is open, with performances to feed the music lover in everyone. Concert tickets include free admission to the fair, so come early and check out the other attractions. The 2011 lineup included performances by Neon Trees, Bob Dylan, Big Time Rush, Selena Gomez, Weezer, Melisa Etheridge, Bill Cosby, B.B. King and the Pink Floyd Experience. For a full lineup and concert schedule, visit the Pacific Amphitheatre website.Action Sports Arena
With the exception of Maloof Money Cup, all events in the Action Sports Arena are free with admission to the fair. ASA events include Freestyle Motocross Jumping, bull riding and the Orange Crush Demolition. The Action Sports portion of the fair culminates with the five-day Maloof Money Cup skateboarding competition.Artful Fare
This includes various arts, sporting and cultural O.C. Fair attractions. At the Memorial Gardens, the Forever Fair Exhibit celebrates the 120th anniversary of the Fair, with a decade-by-decade look at the O.C. Fair's history. As part of the Fair's culinary theme, there will also be a food art exhibit of sorts, with food carving and ice sculpting, as well as daily cooking demos in the Exhibition Promenade. By day, the Hangar will feature free community concerts by tribute bands, and by night, it will host various ticketed concerts and sporting events. Other attractions include the Budweiser Exhibit & Clydesdale Parade and the Sand Sports, RV and Ultimate Sports Show.Shop the Fair
What would the O.C. Fair be without shopping? There is a carnival where Fair attendees can buy all manner of hats, home improvement tools and new products making their debut exclusively at festivals and fairs. Check out the artisan demonstration and craft fair in the quaint and wooded Crafter's Village, or browse the wares of regular O.C. Fair and Event Center vendors in The Market Place.