It’s almost time to ‘Free Your Inner Farmer’ at the Orange County Fair


Roll up your sleeves, strap on some overalls and don’t be stingy with the sunscreen: It’s almost time to “Free Your Inner Farmer.”

Friday will bring the start of the 128th annual Orange County Fair and, with it, a renewed focus on the agrarian history embedded in the DNA of the county’s signature shindig, as its appropriately rustic theme would imply.

This year’s edition will feature many of the familiar features visitors have come to expect — high-flying rides, creative cuisine and a packed entertainment schedule.


However, as always, there are plenty of new things on tap as well.

Here are some of the highlights:


With each edition of the fair comes the question: What are they frying up this year?

Indeed, the latest menu is chock-full of delicacies of the fried, festooned, drizzled and dipped varieties. Among the most eye-catching additions are spaghetti doughnuts, deep-fried filet mignon on a stick, lasagna nachos, peanut butter, jelly and Sriracha funnel cakes, the OC Crunch Cinnamon Roll — with caramel, frosting and cinnamon cereal — and chili chamoy candy apples.

This summer also will see the arrival of two new stands: Holy Cao’s Boba Tea and Who Fried the Cheese? Their names sort of say it all.

Given this year’s theme, some of the food-related fixtures will focus on the fresher side.

A new culinary crawl will provide guided informational tours for fair-goers to sample creations including charcuterie, a patisserie and a craft bar, which will serve cocktails and “mocktails” made with local handpicked ingredients.


Fair-goers can test their intestinal fortitude on a hefty assortment of rides lining the midway.

While none quite measures up to the sheer size of one of last year’s arrivals, La Grande Wheel XL, there are some new additions this year.

Among them are Flying Jumbo — a soaring elephant ride with interactive controls — and Konga, which promises high-speed, side-to-side movement while looking over the crowd. The latter also has a water feature, so riders may get wet.

Those looking to keep their feet on the ground can stroll to Centennial Farm, which will offer Garden Crawl tours led by master gardeners. Artistically inclined guests can visit the Museum of Agragrian Art, which will boast visual displays and digital reproductions of famous art with agricultural bents.

With the opening of the fair also comes the official start of “Bravemind: Using Virtual Reality to Combat PTSD,” a new exhibit at the Heroes Hall veterans museum that showcases virtual reality technology used to help assess and treat post-traumatic stress disorder for military service members and veterans.


Thrill-seekers and music lovers can find something to cheer about in the entertainment offerings before, during and after the fair’s run.

This year’s schedule includes recognizable names in comedy, an array of musicians covering the gamut of genres, and smashing affairs such as a truck demolition derby.

Here’s the full lineup:

Toyota Summer Concert Series, Pacific Amphitheatre

  • Sunday: Straight No Chaser / Jon McLaughlin
  • Thursday: Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons / Pacific Symphony
  • Friday: Ratt / Cinderella’s Tom Keifer / Lynch Mob
  • Saturday: Trevor Noah
  • July 15: Happy Together Tour
  • July 18: Kool & the Gang / Village People
  • July 19: Psychedelic Furs / X / the Fixx
  • July 20: Steve Martin / Martin Short
  • July 21: Which One’s Pink? (Pink Floyd tribute)
  • July 22: Jim Gaffigan
  • July 25: Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson / Al Stewart
  • July 26: Retro Futura Tour
  • July 27: Earth, Wind & Fire
  • July 28: America / Jefferson Starship
  • July 29: Brett Eldredge / Honey County
  • Aug. 1: Hunter Hayes / Runaway June / Coffey Anderson
  • Aug. 2: Rick Springfield / Loverboy / Greg Kihn / Tommy Tutone
  • Aug. 3: UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey / Freddie McGregor
  • Aug. 4: Fab Four (Beatles tribute)
  • Aug. 5: Kabah / JNS / Maria Jose
  • Aug. 8: Toto / Asia featuring John Payne
  • Aug. 9: Willie Nelson / Alison Krauss
  • Aug. 10-11: Rebelution / Stephen Marley / Common Kings / Zion I
  • Aug. 12: Steve Miller Band / Peter Frampton
  • Aug. 16: Stray Cats / Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
  • Aug. 17: Stray Cats / the Paladins
  • Aug. 18: Pacific Symphony, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: In Concert”
  • Aug. 19: Ziggy Marley / the Green / Josh Heinrichs
  • Aug. 24: Thievery Corporation / Steel Pulse / Simpkin Project
  • Aug. 25: Phillip Phillips / Gavin Degraw

The Hangar

  • Friday: Rumours (Fleetwood Mac tribute)
  • Saturday: Dead Man’s Party (Oingo Boingo tribute)
  • July 15: Firefall / Poco
  • July 18: Elton: The Early Years (Elton John tribute)
  • July 19: Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute)
  • July 20: Freedom (George Michael and Wham! tribute)
  • July 21: Surrender / 4NR (Cheap Trick and Foreigner tributes)
  • July 22: Foghat
  • July 25: Queen Nation (Queen tribute)
  • July 26: Hotel California (Eagles tribute)
  • July 27: Journey Unauthorized (Journey tribute)
  • July 28: Zeppelin Live (Led Zeppelin tribute)
  • July 29: Ozomatli
  • Aug. 1: I Am King (Michael Jackson tribute)
  • Aug. 2: Paradise City / Noise Pollution (Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC tributes)
  • Aug. 3: BoStyx (Boston and Styx hits)
  • Aug. 4: Turn the Page (Bob Seger tribute)
  • Aug. 5: Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez
  • Aug. 8: Wild Child (Jim Morrison tribute)
  • Aug. 9: Totally Go-Go’s / Idol X (Go-Go’s and Billy Idol tributes)
  • Aug. 10: Devotional / Hollywood Erasure (Depeche Mode and Erasure tributes)
  • Aug. 11-12: iBuyPower Gamefest 2

Action Sports Arena

  • Friday: X-Treme Freestyle Moto-X
  • Saturday: Speedway Fair Derby
  • July 15: SummerFist 11
  • July 18-22: Daredevils & Wheels
  • July 25-29: Monster Truck Destruction Tour
  • Aug. 1 and 3: Extreme Rodeo
  • Aug. 2 and 4: Broncs & Bulls Rodeo
  • Aug. 5: Fiesta del Charro
  • Aug. 8: Motorhome Madness Demolition Derby
  • Aug. 9: Orange Crush Demolition Derby (police department vs. fire department)
  • Aug. 10: Damsels of Destruction Demolition Derby
  • Aug. 11: Terrible Trucks Demolition Derby / Motorhome Madness Demolition Derby (police chiefs vs. fire chiefs)
  • Aug. 12: Orange Crush Demolition Derby

If You Go

What: 2018 Orange County Fair

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

When: July 13 through Aug. 12; 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. Single-day tickets cost $7 for children ages 6-12 and senior citizens 60 and older. Children 5 and younger can attend for free, as can active and retired military service members with valid ID. Onsite parking is $10 for cars and $20 for buses and limousines.

Specials and discounts: Several specials and discounts are available; details are at


Twitter @LukeMMoney