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Next year’s O.C. Fair will be ‘All for Fun’

Orange County Fair
Children play in the fountains at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, which has announced its theme for the 2020 edition.
(File Photo)

When it came time to reveal the Orange County Fair’s theme for next year, Michele Richards used verse to make her point clear.

Though recent fairs focused on agricultural products such as vegetables and fruits, the next three events will have community at their roots, Richards, the interim chief executive at the Costa Mesa fairgrounds, said Thursday.

With the Orange County Fair Board and several residents listening, Richards reached the end of her poem, punctuating it with a grin:

“A beautiful patchwork of people to see; that’s what’s called community. United under the O.C. sun, all together and ‘All for Fun!’ ”

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If Thursday’s Seussian flourish from Richards was any indication, the 2020 fair may indeed live up to its “All for Fun!” theme.

The fair’s past three themes — 2017’s “Farm Fresh Fun,” 2018’s “Free Your Inner Farmer” and last summer’s “Acres of Fun” — emphasized aspects of Orange County’s agrarian heritage, including agricultural products, those who labor to bring food from the farm to the table and land and the environment.

The 2020 fair will kick off a new three-year thematic cycle focusing on inclusiveness and celebrating Southern California’s diversity.

“We want to focus the next three years on community and what a great community asset the O.C. Fair is,” Richards said.

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Fair Board members applauded the announcement. Before Richards began rhyming, though, board member Doug La Belle cheekily expressed disappointment that another suggestion hadn’t been chosen.

“My guess is ‘Farmers Eat Doughnuts’ didn’t make it?” he said with a chuckle.

“Maybe next year,” Richards replied.

Richards, who was vice president of business development for the OC Fair & Event Center, was appointed as its interim CEO in October after former chief executive Kathy Kramer was fired soon after taking a job as president and CEO of the Central Washington State Fair.

The 2020 Orange County Fair will run from July 17 to Aug. 16 at the Fair & Event Center. For more information, visit ocfair.com.

2019 fair turns a profit

Also during Thursday’s Fair Board meeting, Richards unveiled how the 2019 fair did financially.

Over its 23-day run, the event raked in $36.3 million in revenue, compared with about $24.5 million in expenses.

Both figures were slightly off budgeted expectations, with revenue coming in about $145,000 lower and expenses roughly $109,000 higher.

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This past summer’s fair drew nearly 1.4 million people, according to the Fair & Event Center.

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