The Orange County Fair is expanding its LGBTQ inclusivity with the Out at the Fair festival on Sunday.
Event organizer Will Zakrajshek said Out at the Fair is part of fairs around the state — mostly in Northern California — but the San Diego-based group has been trying to connect with the OC Fair for years.
Zakrajshek, Out at the Fair’s chief executive, said people often focus on what makes them different, but this festival embraces what people have in common — and everybody enjoys a fair.
“We all still breathe the same air and drink the same water,” he said.
Out at the Fair started in 2011 as an “unofficial gay day” at the San Diego County Fair that was loosely organized on Facebook. Success quickly transformed the event into a fully formed and branded festival-within-a-festival with entertainment lineups, nonprofit booths and commemorative T-shirts, plus the endorsement of San Diego fair officials.
Out at the Fair has since expanded to the California State Fair in Sacramento, fairs in Alameda, Marin, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties, and the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque.
The celebratory day in Orange County comes on the heels of a May vote by the OC Fair Board to fly the rainbow pride flag year-round at the state-owned fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. The flag, a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, was stolen from the OC Fair & Event Center three days after it was raised for the first time at the fairgrounds — prompting the Fair Board to study how to respond to hate crimes.
The flag has since been replaced.
“The flag kind of proved a point why” Out at the Fair is needed, Zakrajshek said.
The family-friendly festival will be headquartered at the Club OC venue at the fairgrounds, where attendees can pick up their own free rainbow flag while supplies last.
Scheduled entertainment includes an appearance by the Golden State Squares, an Orange County gay and lesbian square dancing club, and a “Glam Show” featuring drag queens Katalina De Isla, Aubrey Summers, Xotica Erotica, Jazlyn Slayer, Alassandra Divine and Tequila Halston. Nonprofits including Laguna Beach Pride, the LGBTQ Center Long Beach, OC Pride and the LGBT Center OC are among the event’s community partners.