Orange County Fair (California)

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Orange County Fair
OC Fair midway, 2008.
The midway of the Orange County Fair in 2008.
LocationCosta Mesa, California, United States
Coordinates33°40′0″N 117°54′4″W / 33.66667°N 117.90111°W / 33.66667; -117.90111Coordinates: 33°40′0″N 117°54′4″W / 33.66667°N 117.90111°W / 33.66667; -117.90111
Operating season12 July – 11 August 2019 (23 days, closed Mondays/Tuesdays).
Visitors per annum1 million+
WebsiteOC Fair

The Orange County Fair, abbreviated as the OC Fair, is a 23-day annual fair that is held every summer at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California.


The fair first took place in the year 1890 and consisted of some minor exhibits in Santa Ana and a horse race.[1] From 1889 to 1894 the fair was run by the Orange County Community Fair Corporation, but was then taken over by the Orange County Fair Association, Inc. Early fairs mainly consisted of horse races and livestock shows, but around 1900 new carnival-like attractions were added and the fair become a yearly occurrence. The fair was located in Santa Ana, except for a brief interval after World War I, when it was moved to Huntington Beach.[1]

Costa Mesa Skyline

Starting in 1916, the fair was managed by the Orange County Farm Bureau. An Orange County Fair Board was elected in 1925, and the fair was moved to Anaheim with the addition of a rodeo and carnival. From 1932 to 1939, the fair was located in Pomona, California as part of a combined Orange, Los Angeles, and Riverside County Fair.[2] Following World War II the 32nd District Agricultural Association was formed by the state of California, and it took on the task of running the fair. The state purchased land from the Santa Ana Army Air Base and set some of it aside for use as a new fairgrounds. In 1949 the fair became a five-day-long event and was relocated to the old army base, which quickly became the permanent location.

The city of Costa Mesa was incorporated in 1953 with the fair residing in its boundaries. The fairgrounds' 150 acres has been the home of the fair ever since 1949 and has expanded to an annual 23 day summer event.[3]

Fairground sale[edit]

In May 2009, then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended the Orange County Fairgrounds be listed for sale. He had decided the fairgrounds were "surplus or underutilized" assets,[3] although the Fair hosts more than one million visitors each year and is utilized virtually every day of the week with multiple community activities. OC Weekly reported, "What followed was a story of deception by a small group in a position of power within the fairgrounds hierarchy. Through various contractual agreements between people of wealth and power, a move was made to privatize that public land in what members of the Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society call one of the largest, most deliberate land grabs in the county's long history of land grabs."[3] The Preservation Society quickly stepped in to halt the sale. They contended that the OC legislators in Sacramento had been remiss in intervening to stop the transaction, that the proposed deal to sell public land was both "Ill-advised and illegal."[3] Both the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum were saved by just such an intervention by the legislators.[3]

A public auction was held, but before any sales agreements could be signed, there were two lawsuits filed and the sale was stopped. The Preservation Society, and Tel Phil Enterprises filed in the Court of Appeal and asked that the new governor Jerry Brown have the sale categorically dismissed. Lawsuits by two former building commissioners that Schwarzenegger had fired, however, stalled the proposed sale long enough for incoming Governor Brown to have the final word.[4]

OCFEC Board of Directors response[edit]

After a closed session on January 27, 2011, the OCFEC Board of Directors issued the following policy statement regarding the sale of the fairgrounds:

On February 8, 2011, the 32nd District Agricultural Association sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, which can be viewed as a PDF at the site.[6]

Gubernatorial response[edit]

In February 2011, Governor Jerry Brown told the Los Angeles Times, "This is not the best time to be selling real estate. I think we have time to consider what we ought to do with that." He also said that his predecessor's plan, rather than helping California's budget crisis, would "have cost taxpayers far more in the long run." [4] Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) stated that Brown's comments were "a good sign." [4]


The Orange County Fair is the 9th-largest fair in the United States.[7]

Year Attendance
2018 1,470,636[8]
2017 1,334,000[9]
2016 1,344,996[10]
2015 1,301,445[11]
2014 1,337,167[12]
2012 1,300,000[13]
2011 1,352,973[14]
2010 1,135,536[15]
2009 1,070,061[16]
2008 1,062,673[16]
2007 1,090,653
2006 924,315
2005 1,058,192
2004 963,984
2003 881,596
2002 898,197
2001 843,347
2000 808,810
1999 724,561
1998 723,061
1997 785,944


The Fairground in Costa Mesa has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb), that is nearly perfect for its many outdoor activities.

Climate data for Costa Mesa
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 64
Average low °F (°C) 44
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.60
Source: Weather Channel[17]



  1. ^ a b "OC Fair & Event Center : History". Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  2. ^ Berg, Tom (July 12, 2015). "Deep-Fried Fun". The Orange County Register. pp. News 1, 4–5.
  3. ^ a b c d e Chasen Marshall (2011-03-17). "Fair Games Over the OC Fairgrounds - Page 1 - News - Orange County". OC Weekly. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  4. ^ a b c "California Budget Crisis | Jerry Brown cancels sale of state properties planned to help address California's budget crisis - Los Angeles Times". 2011-02-10. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  5. ^ "OC Fair & Event Center : Announcements". 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Volpe, Michael (July 26, 2010). "Rumors of Fair's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated". Orange County Business Journal. 33 (30): 46.
  8. ^ "2018 OC Fair sets attendance records and gives back to the community". OC Fair. August 13, 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  9. ^ Casiano, Jr., Louis (August 16, 2017). "OC Fair 2017: Attendance slightly down, but survey shows more guests satisfied". Orange County Register. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  10. ^ Boessenkool, Antonie (August 16, 2016). "Bidding Fair-Well". The Orange County Register. p. Local 1. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  11. ^ "OC Fair's "One Big Party" Ends With 15,000 Deep Fried Coffee Balls, $3,200 Worth Of Caviar Twinkies, 33 Sold-Out Events & 17 Piglets" (Press release). Orange County Fair. 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  12. ^ "2014 OC Fair Welcomes More Than 1.3 Million Fairgoers Distributes 435,000 Carnival Plushes & Devours 1,600 Pounds of Watermelon" (Press release). Costa Mesa, California: Orange County Fair. August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  13. ^ Martindale, Scott (August 12–13, 2012). "OC Fair attendance down slightly to 1.3 million". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  14. ^ Quick, Sonya (August 14, 2011). "Record crowds eat through the OC Fair". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  15. ^ Irving, Doug (August 16, 2010). "OC Fair breaks attendance record". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  16. ^ a b Luna, Nancy (August 9, 2009). "Visitors flock to OC Fair's finale". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
  17. ^ "Average weather for Costa Mesa". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2008-03-29.

Further reading[edit]

  • Epting, Chris (2015). The Orange County Fair. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. ISBN 978-1-62619-802-9.

External links[edit]