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Crowds eat and play on opening day at the Orange County Fair

There’s nothing quite like the sound of screaming people being spun overhead on a thrill ride while Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” blares from an adjacent attraction to let you know a county fair is going on.

But if that weren’t enough, a big sign in the middle of the OC Fair & Event Center will make it clear.

Yes, the Orange County Fair got underway Friday afternoon in Costa Mesa, opening to crowds that flooded the 130-acre fairgrounds for “Acres of Fun” — the last in a three-year series of agriculture-based themes.

Flamingos — or at least stilt-walkers with flamingo facades — walked among the crowd. Near the Green Gate entrance, a man in a sequined multicolored fish scale vest tossed pins in the air while calling out show times.

“Just five more minutes!” he shouted to passersby.

Among the fair-goers were dance instructors and a group of their students from the All That Dance studio in Newport Beach. Instructors Caroline Taketa, 19, and Diana Labruna said they most looked forward to the fair’s food, especially their favorites, fried Oreos and fried pickles.

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Director Nicole Ashby said the studio usually performs at the fair but isn’t in the lineup this year because of changes in the performance schedules. So the instructors and students spent time at the fair Friday bonding.

Ashby’s daughter, November, 9, said she looked forward to the roller coasters, specifically the Alien Abduction, mostly because it spins fast.

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The Hogan family from Fort Hood, Texas, visited the fair on vacation. Zach Hogan, 28, said he grew up in Fountain Valley and that he had good memories of the fair, especially Centennial Farm and the Kid Zone.

Hogan and his wife, Ashley, planned to go to the Kid Zone with their children, Bentley, 4, and Huxley, 3, after passing through the gates.

“They’re very excited,” Ashley Hogan said. “They’re tired of waiting.”

The family also was going to check out the new ride Titan, which blasts riders 17 stories into the air, swinging them in a circular path at speeds up to 60 mph. Only Zach would be riding it, while the rest of the family would watch, Ashley said.

Titan rider Logan Dutton of Lake Elsinore said, “It wasn’t like that drop you get from that feeling when your stomach’s got butterflies, but it’s fun.”

Titan, which is making its California debut, was the first thing Dutton did after arriving at the fair.

The Orange County Fair is in its 129th iteration, and DeAnna Bartolone of Foothill Ranch and Doreen Moreno of Westminster keep coming back.

Bartolone said her favorite thing is the pig racing because the pigs are cute, while Moreno said all of the fair, including the food and concerts, is a must.

“I think [the fair] brings everyone together,” Taketa said. “I think it pulls a lot of people from a bunch of different areas and kind of brings them into one central thing where everyone’s enjoying the same activities and the same foods and the same rides. It’s just a nice way for everyone to get involved in one big event.”

IF YOU GO

What: Orange County Fair

Where: OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

When: Wednesdays through Sundays through Aug. 11; noon to midnight Wednesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays

Cost: General admission is $12 Wednesdays through Fridays and $14 on weekends. Several specials and discounts are available. For details, visit ocfair.com/oc-fair/discounts.

Information: ocfair.com/oc-fair

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