A fair to remember

The Orange County Fair doesn't specify exactly what "it" is in this year's theme of "Come & Get It," but there's plenty to choose from.

Friday marks the beginning of the annual event's deep-fried grandeur, cornucopia of entertainment, rides, animals, games and more at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, according to news releases and the fair's website.

This year, a new cast of food mascots is ready to welcome fairgoers Wednesdays through Sundays, from Friday to Aug. 11.

Although attendees won't be able to eat Arturo the churro, Olivia the orange or Mike the bacon-wrapped turkey leg, they can buy plush toys depicting the "foodies" and find them in costume around the grounds.

There's plenty of real food to go around with gourmet food trucks, celebrity chefs and dishes like cheesy bacon bombs all making appearances.

Each Thursday, about half a dozen food trucks will gather inside the fair near the livestock area from noon to 10 p.m.

Celebrity chefs like Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana Restaurant in Bell and Michael Chiarello of Bottega in Napa Valley and Coqueto in San Francisco will host demonstrations in the Hanger.

Del Campo and Arvizu will appear at 4 p.m. July 29 and Chiarello will appear at 4 p.m. Aug. 1.

This year, the fair will celebrate Orange County with a multimedia presentation called Summer in the Cities.

Videos and photos on a 40-foot screen will combine with pyrotechnics in the Hanger for a nightly show that's free with admission.

For an extra cost, fairgoers can attend regular entertainment from musical acts to demolition derbies at the fair's three main venues.

Shows are scheduled in the Hangar, the Action Sports Arena and the Pacific Amphitheatre, but there are plenty of exhibits and shows available with the cost of general admission.

Dr. Entomo's Palace of Exotic Wonders shows off bugs like its Madagascar hissing cockroaches or Goliath bird-eating tarantula, all in a circus sideshow-themed exhibit.

From July 31 to Aug. 11, the Oasis Camel Dairy show will educate fairgoers on camels, uses for their milk and demonstrate camel milking daily at 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

As always, the Centennial Farm will give visitors a glimpse at California's agricultural history with more than 30 different crops and animals like pigs, goats, oxen and poultry on display.


Your ticket in

Fair entry is generally $11, $8 for seniors or $6 for kids ages 6 to 12 (those younger than 6 are free), but there are a host of discounts and other admissions options.

Parking and admission is free from noon to 1 p.m. on opening day.

The OC Fair Super Pass, on sale at the fairgrounds, grants admission all 23 days and gives the holder discounts on events at the Hanger, Pacific Amphitheatre and Action Sports Arena.

The Super Pass is $35, $30 for seniors or $25 for youth 6 to 12.

Every Thursday, kids younger than 12 get free admission all day, and each Friday, guests older than 60 get $2 off senior admission.

Each weekend, the Rise & Shine promotion offers $3 admission from 10 to 11 a.m.

With ID, active duty United States military members and veterans receive free fair admission every day.

More information about the fair is available at ocfair.com or by downloading the free 2013 OC Fair app through the iTunes or Google Play stores.

If You Go

What: Orange County Fair

When: Friday to Aug. 11; noon to midnight Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays.

Where: Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: General $11; seniors 60 and older $8; children ages 6 to 12 $6; children 5 and younger free

Parking: $10 for general parking, cash only

Information: (714) 708-1500 or ocfair.com

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