Nearly 1.4 million people visited the Orange County Fair this year — not quite a record, but enough people to eat more than three tons of sourdough bread at Ten Pound Buns.
According to figures released Monday, the 129th annual summer festival in Costa Mesa saw 1,393,482 guests during its 23-day “Acres of Fun” run that began July 12 and ended Sunday. That’s a 5% drop from 2018’s 1,470,636 guests, but last year’s attendance broke a record that had stood for seven years.
“We are extremely happy with the numbers for this year’s O.C. Fair,” spokeswoman Terry Moore said in a statement. “We had fantastic weather, several new events, a great entertainment lineup and all the fair favorites that keep people coming back year after year. We are pleased that so many people chose to spend part of their summer at the O.C. Fair and that they went home with many happy memories.”
If happy means sweet, concessionaire Ray Cammack Shows reported using more than nine tons of sugar to make cotton candy, candied apples, funnel cakes and deep-fried desserts.
Elsewhere among the food purveyors, Hot Dogs on a Stick sold 20,000 corn dogs, Enzo’s Pizza tossed four tons of dough, and olive oil sommeliers handed out 29,000 samples.
New programming and promotions included the first Out at the Fair festival to support and entertain LGBTQ guests and friends, the “Love is in the Fair” wedding giveaway that joined Leslie Leong and Michael Nguyen in matrimony at the Millennium Barn, and the Viva El Mariachi festival in the Pacific Amphitheatre.
On the artistic side, four tons of clay were used to make pottery at Muddy’s Studio, and some 73,000 yards of yarn were used to teach guests to make 4,000 pompoms at the Home Arts Craft Table.
Culinary arts competitors netted $12,490 in winnings for being the best among more than 1,600 pies, cakes, jams and breads. Garden and floral contests drew 5,830 entries, and winners took home $13,615 in prizes.
Through the fair’s charitable programs, guests donated 87,300 school supplies, 25.7 tons of food, 82,984 children’s books and 31,069 items of clothing in exchange for free admission on We Care Wednesdays.
Students in area 4-H and FFA programs sold 257 animals through the Junior Livestock Auction, raising $279,476. For animals native to the fairgrounds, Centennial Farm saw the birth of one calf and 10 piglets.
Final fair revenue numbers are expected to be released in October.
Orange County Fair attendance
Source: OC Fair & Event Center