Orange County Fair fairgoers freed their wallets along with their inner farmers, as the OC Fair & Event Center raked in $35.7 million in total revenue from the summertime event, according to figures discussed Thursday.
That’s about $1.2 million above last year’s take and almost $481,000 more than anticipated.
“We had a fantastic 2018 OC Fair,” Adam Carleton, vice president of finance and administration, said during Thursday’s Orange County Fair Board meeting.
Among the factors that fueled the increase were higher-than-expected hauls for attractions and concessions, according to staff.
However, as Carleton put it, “when you do more, it takes more.”
The organization saw total event expenses hit $27.9 million — almost $430,000 higher than budgeted and more than $2.6 million above last year.
Among the areas where spending was greater than anticipated were professional services and supplies and equipment.
Overall, year-to-date net proceeds were in line with budgeted expectations, though they actually declined — from $9.2 million in 2017 to $7.8 million this year — even as the latest event drew a record 1.47 million visitors.
Michele Richards, the Fair & Event Center’s vice president of business development, noted that this year’s fair also set a single-day attendance record with 86,334 attendees on July 28.
“We were told that there were more people here that day at the OC Fair than at Disneyland,” she said.
“Take that, Mickey!” joked board Chairwoman Barbara Bagneris.
This year’s fair was themed “Free Your Inner Farmer.” The theme for 2019 hasn’t yet been revealed, but officials have said it will focus on land and the environment.
New board officers
At the end of their meeting Thursday, Fair Board members also elected their officers for the coming year. They selected Vice Chair Robert Ruiz to take over as chairman — replacing Bagneris — and named member Sandra Cervantes vice chairwoman.
Both Cervantes and Ruiz have served on the Fair Board since 2014.