Community Commentary: Readers honor O.C. Fair with No. 1 vote

Humble: Old French, humble, earlier humele, from Latin, humilis, "lowly, humble" Lit. "on the ground," from humus "earth." Senses of "not self-asserting."

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times, which shares a parent company with the Daily Pilot, published the results of its inaugural reader's choice poll conducted across all five counties it serves and identifying "what's good in the hood" in Southern California.

The Orange County Fair was the readers' choice winner for best fair or festival in SoCal. One word sums up the feeling: humble.

Couple this honor with the fact that the 2011 O.C. Fair, having just completed it eighth day, is 20% ahead of last year's attendance figures, then, there are no words.

Media, colleagues and metrics can all be encouraging and affirming of a job well done, but nothing ever tops the public saying in one voice, "You are our first choice."

I doubt the fair, from its humble beginnings in 1890, has ever been bestowed an honor that exceeds this. Now 121 years running, it feels like the selection from the people communicates that "after all this time, the O.C. Fair remains relevant to us and we will continue to choose it as our way to be educated and entertained."

In fact, this honor feels more like a new beginning, a new start to the dialogue with the O.C. Fair responding to the public by saying, "OK, you chose us, now how can we serve you even better?"

In fact, that conversation, like the fair, is in full swing. Our annual patron survey asks fairgoers for feedback of their experience. Perhaps the most important question on the survey is, "Which areas can the O.C. Fair improve your experience here today?"

Guess the top two? Hint: They both have stalls. That's right, parking and restrooms. There is no greater frustration experienced by fairgoers than if they don't have an open stall to pull into or to pull closed for a private moment.

Ease of access and cleanliness comprise the two improvements cited as necessary for both. My thinking is that the best way to stay the reader's choice in the future is to significantly improve in both areas, though only 3 in 10 respondents cited these areas as needing improvement.

The O.C. Fair will work diligently toward that improvement. No stalling.

This coming week, as Friday marks the halfway point, there are many great happenings coming in the second half of the 2011 O.C. Fair. Bill Cosby, Clydesdales and culinary arts take center stage in the coming days.

The Rise and Shine offer has risen and shown to be a favorite of the fairgoer as attendance in the weekend first hours has gone up more than 50%. As the July sun gives way to the August moon, the O.C. Fair will continue to humbly serve the deep, mutually admiring relationship with the public. Thank you L.A. Times, cheers to The Times readers and bless you fairgoers.

Only one thing left to say: Let's eat!

STEVEN BEAZLEY is the president and chief executive of the O.C. Fair. He is writing a Tuesday column for the Daily Pilot on the insights and happenings for the duration of the 2011 O.C. Fair.

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