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O.C. Fair draws nearly 1.4 million for ‘Acres of Fun’

2019 Orange County Fair
Fair clowns greet visitors at the Blue Gate entrance on opening day of the 2019 Orange County Fair on July 12.
(File Photo)

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.

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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.

2019 Orange County Fair
Riders get flipped upside down high above the ground as a new ride called Titan takes them on a spinning trip on long metal arms at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa on July 20. It was one of four new rides at the fair.
(File Photo)

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.

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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.

2019 Orange County Fair
Colin Kokenge takes a bite of gelato with an edible spoon at the Orange County Fair on Aug. 2.
(File Photo)

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

2019: 1,393,482
2018: 1,470,636*
2017: 1,334,753
2016: 1,344,996
2015: 1,301,445
2014: 1,337,167
2013: 1,374,579
2012: 1,357,335
2011: 1,400,280
2010: 1,154,969

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2009: 1,072,018

Source: OC Fair & Event Center
* Record

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