Summer is looking like fun again thanks to the Orange County Fair, which returns July 16 – August 15 after a one-year pandemic-caused hiatus.
This year’s theme is “Time for Fun!” and is certainly appropriate with COVID-restrictions easing and more activities being planned.
The OC Fair Board voted to keep ticket prices at the 2019 OC Fair rates: $12 weekday general admission (Wednesday, Thursday) and $14 weekend general admission (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Admission for seniors (60+) and youth (ages 6-12) is $7 every day. Children 5 and younger are free.
New this year—tickets must be purchased in advance, but the OC Fair will cover the online ticket sales fees. At this time ticket sales are limited to California residents and parties no larger than three households.
The fair will open each day at 10 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and midnight on weekends.
Naturally, there will be many modifications to the OC Fair this year.
According to information from OC Fair officials, the daily capacity will be capped at 45,000 fairgoers, and the event is being designed to give visitors more elbow room and will have a reduced number of attractions to follow public health and safety guidelines and allow distancing. Face coverings will be required. The OC Fair follows CDC, state and county health directives.
Entrance gates will be reconfigured for distancing and new entry screening technology is under review. Fairgoers are asked to download or print their admission tickets prior to arriving to help move the lines along.
The 2021 OC Fair app is in development and will help guests with their plans and purchases in advance. Carnival tickets will also be available for online purchase prior to the fair.
“This summer it truly will be ‘Time for Fun’ and we’re bringing back that special joy you can only find at the OC Fair,” said Michele Richards, OC Fair & Event Center CEO. “The animals, the crazy food, the entertainment and people coming out to enjoy the sunshine – this is what OC Fair memories are made of and we’re happy to be able to safely welcome fairgoers back this year.”
Enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols will be in place and staff is undergoing additional training to help keep everyone safe. Restrooms, seating areas and other high-touch areas will be frequently sanitized. Face coverings are required for staff, vendors and guests, and hand sanitizing stations have been added throughout the fairgrounds.
To accommodate distancing, booths and attractions will be spaced out and several fair favorites will be located in different places this year. The popular pig races will move to the Park Plaza area and the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs shows will still be free with fair admission.
Merchants and vendors will return to the shopping buildings, but capacity limits will be enforced there and in the home arts, visual arts and culinary buildings. There are also changes planned at entertainment stages, food locations, competition displays and in the carnival midway areas.
For all those hoping to bring home a blue ribbon, the fair’s competition program has undergone some changes for 2021, so it’s important to check the competition guides on ocfair.com/competitions. Entries open Thursday, April 29, for categories like woodworking, sugar arts and collections. Horticulture entries open June 4.
The Junior Livestock Market Week activities and competitions will take place at the fairgrounds prior to the fair’s opening and this year’s auction will be held virtually on July 10. There will still be plenty of animals to see at the OC Fair. Goats, horses, chickens, cattle and more will be in the livestock barns and the resident animals, including baby piglets, at Centennial Farm will welcome visitors.
Some concerts in Pacific Amphitheatre and The Hangar are on sale and more will be coming soon. Capacity will be determined by public health directives and could change prior to show dates. Those who have purchased tickets will be notified of any updates and the OC Fair will announce any capacity changes that could open up additional ticket sales.
There are no shows slated in the Action Sports Arena during the 2021 OC Fair.
General parking is still $10, $20 for buses and limos, credit card only. The free shuttle from Experian and OCTA’s OC Fair Express bus service will not be available this year.
For more information, visit www.ocfair.com.