OC Fair is ready to feed and entertain

It's not summer in Orange County until the first fried concoction has been consumed and the iconic Ferris wheel makes its initial turn, at least according to this year's fair theme, "Summer Starts Here."

Friday marks the beginning of the Orange County Fair's 124th year of providing fairgoers with entertainment, rides, animals and, of course, deep-fried splendor. The fair runs Wednesdays through Sundays until Aug. 10.

New food items making appearances at this year's fair include deep-fried Doritos, deep-fried chicken skin, Bacon-Wrapped Jack Daniels — a churro creation with a non-alcoholic whiskey kick — and a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped turkey leg.

Texas Donuts is introducing its giant doughnuts in new flavors, which this year include Cherry Pop Rocks, Banana Chocolate Cream and Peanut Butter Cup.

For attendees looking for smaller portions of their favorite fair foods, samples of funnel cake, barbecue tri-tip, lemonade, cinnamon rolls, corn dogs, tacos, gelato and cotton candy can be purchased for $2 every Friday from noon to 4 p.m.

For an extra cost, fairgoers can be entertained by a variety of events, including musical acts, demolition derbies and beer tasting at the fair's three main venues.

Shows are scheduled in the Hangar, the Action Sports Arena and the Pacific Amphitheatre.

OC Brew Hee Haw, a three-day craft beer event featuring more than 60 beers from popular brewers like Stone Brewing Co., Valiant Brewing Co. and Green Flash Brewing Co., will hit the fairgrounds on opening day.

For $50 presale, attendees can attend seminars from industry experts and receive a commemorative tasting glass, 15 craft beer tastings and all-day admission to the fair.

Visit ocbrewheehaw.com for a complete list of brewers and ticket information.

General admission only will still get visitors into plenty of exhibits and shows.

Celebrity chefs Carla Hall, who co-hosts ABC's "The Chew," Roy Choi of the Kogi BBQ taco truck and Kelsey Nixon, who competed on "The Next Food Network Star," will host demonstrations in the Hanger.

Hall will appear at 4 p.m. July 17, Choi at 4 p.m. July 24 and Nixon at 4 p.m. July 31.

Those interested in live cooking challenges can watch local chefs in the Promenade at 7 p.m. every Saturday. The chefs will each be tasked with cooking using earth, water, air or fire, depending on the Saturday.

Fair attendees of all ages can enjoy free exhibits, activities and shows like the Magic of Frank Thurston, Prehistoric Pets and The Good, The Bad & The Unbelievable — meaning live and preserved insects, spiders, caterpillars and scorpions.

Centennial Farm, which is celebrating its 25th year at the fair, will give visitors a peek into California's agricultural roots as it features more than 30 crops and animals such as pigs, goats and oxen.

Fair entry is $12 general admission and $7 for seniors and kids ages 6 to 12. Children younger than 6 are admitted free.

Parking and admission is free from noon to 1 p.m. on opening day.

The OC Fair Super Pass, on sale at the fairgrounds, grants admission all 23 days. The Super Pass is $35, or $28 for seniors and youths 6 to 12.

Every Thursday, kids younger than 12 will be admitted for free, and each Friday, guests older than 60 will get $2 off senior admission. Seniors can receive free Ferris wheel and merry-go-round rides.

Each weekend, the Rise & Shine promotion offers $3 admission from 10 to 11 a.m.

Active duty U.S. military and veterans receive free fair admission every day.

If You Go

What: OC Fair

When: Friday to Aug. 10; noon to midnight Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays.

Where: Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: General, $12; seniors 60 and older and children ages 6 to 12, $7; children 5 and younger, free

Parking: $10 for general parking, cash only

Information: (714) 708-1500 or ocfair.com

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