The Orange County Fair returns in three weeks to give guests an opportunity to get in touch with their agrarian nature while checking out the annual assortment of rides, games, entertainment and, of course, food.
The 128th edition of the summertime tradition will start July 13 and run Wednesdays through Sundays through Aug. 12.
The theme is “Free Your Inner Farmer,” a nod to the county’s agricultural heritage. While the fair will offer all the festive accoutrements you would expect, it’s also “a salute to the farmers and the people that bring food to our tables,” Kathy Kramer, chief executive of the OC Fair & Event Center, said Thursday.
This summer’s event is the second in a three-year initiative to focus the fair’s theme on agriculture, Kramer told about 60 people at a Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce luncheon in the Millennium Barn at the fairgrounds. Last year’s theme was “Farm Fresh Fun.”
Thursday’s lunch took place amid an appropriately agrarian backdrop. Guests dined on a meal made with eggs, vegetables, fruits and herbs harvested from the nearby Centennial Farm and were serenaded by the chirps of birds roosting in the barn’s rafters and the persistent bleating of a nearby goat.
A pair of oxen stood a few yards outside the barn watching as Kramer walked the crowd through some of the fair’s offerings and attractions this year.
They include new culinary events and contests and additional entertainment — such as the stunt show Daredevils and Wheels and the Peterson Farm Bros, a group of sibling farmers who make parody music videos about their craft.
It wouldn’t be the Orange County Fair without new and surprising foods to sample. Among the more intriguing concoctions this year are spaghetti doughnuts, peanut butter and jelly Sriracha funnel cake, lasagna nachos and deep-fried filet mignon — on a stick, naturally.
In keeping with the agricultural bent, this year’s fair also includes a new promotion offering free admission to visitors who show up wearing overalls between noon and 3 p.m. Thursdays.
“We want you to get out and free your inner farmer,” Kramer said.
IF YOU GO
What: 2018 Orange County Fair
When: July 13 through Aug. 12; noon to midnight Wednesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays
Where: OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
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.