Flying start at the fair

Thousands flocked to the Orange County Fair on Friday afternoon to get their hands on deep-fried concoctions, slabs of meat wrapped in bacon and, of course, oversized stuffed animals.

A total of 38,837 people entered the fair during the first hour Friday — a new attendance record for opening day, said OC Fair spokeswoman Robin Wachner.

Each year on opening day, the fair offers free admission and parking between noon and 1 p.m.

Last year's opening day also set a record with 36,550 people showing up within the first hour, Wachner said.

Victor Cheng brought his friends, who are visiting from Toronto, to experience the quintessential American tradition of county fairs.

Upon stepping onto the grounds, the group immediately began to scope out this year's food options.

Cheng, of Costa Mesa, decided to try the new deep-fried, bacon-wrapped turkey leg.

"It's ridiculous," he said. "It's cartoon-sized."

His friend Nick McAdam decided to play it safe and order cheese fries with bacon.

McAdam was impressed with the size of the fair and the number of people who showed up to celebrate the first day.

"We have fairs in Toronto," he said. "But ours are much smaller and only last a few days. It's interesting to see how it's all done here."

A line quickly formed in front of Chicken Charlie's, the popular stand for all things deep-fried. With options like deep-fried Doritos, Twinkies and Oreos, there are very few things the stand won't throw into the deep fryer.

Linda Moralez of Costa Mesa stays away from the deep-fried desserts. Her sweet tooth leads her to more traditional fair options like cotton candy and candy apples, she said.

She and her husband, Reno, stopped in on opening day after being away from the fair for a few years to see what they've been missing.

"The kids are with their grandparents today, so we thought we would check it out," Reno Moralez said. "We'll come back another day as a family."

In the Centennial Farms area, Kirsten Casillas of Costa Mesa and her daughters stopped to pet the sheep.

The sheep bleated loudly at Casillas' youngest daughter, Sara Grace, 1, was finishing her corn dog and lemonade.

"It looks like everyone's excited about today," Casillas said of the sheep.

Because the fair offers so much, Casillas said, she plans to bring her daughters and husband back over the weekend.

"We come every year," she said. "It's a local, fun event that we can share as a family."

The fair runs until Aug. 10. It is open from noon to midnight Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays.

General admission is $12, seniors and youths ages 6 to 12 are admitted for $7, and those younger than 6 get in for free.

More information is available at (714) 708-1500 or

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