The giant Ferris wheel has been assembled. The grills are ready to fire and loaded with turkey thighs and corn on the cob. Alaskan racing pigs are waiting for the starting bell.
After last year’s disappointing cancellation, the OC 2021 fair is scheduled to open on Friday, July 16 – and those who have attended fairs in previous years will notice some changes.
“It’s a different fair for our visitors to explore, things will be in slightly different places, things will be a bit spaced out,” said Terry Moore, spokesperson for OC Fair and Event Center.
The most important thing to know? To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, attendance is limited to 45,000 guests per day (about 75% of average attendance in normal years) and tickets are sold in advance for specific dates – so those that don’t plan ahead but then deciding to go to a popular day may be unlucky.
This is just the first difference viewers in 2021 will see. When they arrive there will be less waiting and crowds at the front gates due to a new ‘blade’ security system which Moore says will mean ‘you don’t need to remove anything. out of your pockets or your bags ”.
Inside the fairgrounds, exhibits, rides, and food stalls are more dispersed, and most vendors will have contactless payment options.
Visitors to the show will see a few new features, including new ‘Wind Surf’ and ‘Moonraker’ rides and a ‘New York, New York’ entertainment house in the main carnival, ‘Winky the Whale’ and Liberty rides in the children’s carnival, and a number of new food choices including a thick, crispy dill pickle slice topped with melted cheddar cheese and mashed hot Cheetos that “mid-gourmet” chef Dominic Palmieri described as “the quintessential mix of salt, fat and acid in a portion “.
But returning visitors will also find old favorites here: La Grande Roue, pig races, kiosk after kiosk of products to admire or buy, and the chicks, goats and pigs of the Ferme du Centenaire.
“It’s really a year, I think, of nostalgia,” Moore said. “We bring back summer memories and summer family fun that everyone missed.”
Seeing the cancellation of the 2020 in-person fair has been “heartbreaking,” Palmieri said of the rides, games and food entrepreneur RCS. Employees – including a grandmother whose grandchildren now work for RCS – have lost income they depend on, and businesses in Costa Mesa have lost as well, he said.
“I guess a lot of people don’t understand the economic impact of a fair on a community, and all the people who work at the fair and all the businesses that work at the fair and hire thousands of employees,” he said. he declared.
Palmieri was hoping it could be a full capacity event, but even with restrictions, he was excited to hear that there would be an OC Fair this year. RCS spent the downtime getting ready by renovating its rides and putting shiny new exteriors on concession booths, adding more hand sanitizer dispensers and putting antibacterial wrappers on high contact items. like straw distributors, and by reorganizing and rationalizing culinary offerings.
“We know we can do it safely, we know we can build customer confidence that they can go out and have a good time when they come to the salon,” Palmieri said.
It is also a relief for OC Fair officials to be back, not only because they missed out on the fun of the fair, but because it is a major source of income for the fairground. Michele Richards, CEO of OC Fair and Event Center, said the venue lost $ 18 million from its reserves last year because the fair was canceled, so they had to plan carefully this year – and with the ever-changing pandemic situation, they only had about four months to prepare instead of a whole year.
But fair officials learned a few things by hosting a virtual fair last year, Richards said. Some of the online games and contests have been well received and may remain in place as a complement to the live event.
This is a banner year for Richards, who was a consultant or fairground employee for almost 20 years, but was not appointed CEO until December 2019. This will be her first OC salon at the helm of the organization, and she said she couldn’t be happier to bring it back.
“These are really the simple things that people come back to the fair for year after year – their favorite fair food or watching the hypnotist on stage or walking around the exhibition buildings,” Richards said, but also, “ to be together as a community – oh, how we missed that.
What you need to know about the OC 2021 Fair
The OC fair opens from Friday July 16 to Sunday August 15. Here’s what you need to know if you want to go.
Plan ahead: Attendance is limited to 45,000 guests per day and tickets are only sold in advance (not at the door) for specific dates. Go to www.ocfair.com to buy tickets.
When should we go: The fair opens earlier, 10am, on opening days; it closes at 11 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and at midnight from Friday to Sunday. (The fair is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.)
What it costs: It’s $ 12 Wednesday and Thursday, and $ 14 Friday through Sunday for everyone except seniors and children 6 to 12, who pay $ 7 per day; children 5 and under are free. Parking costs $ 10 per car.
Things to do: The full program of events is available on www.ocfair.com. The demolition derby and other events in the Action Sports Arena do not take place, but there is a full list of concerts in the Hangar and the Pacific Amphitheater.