Droves of fairgoers are expected in Costa Mesa today as the gates to the 2012 Orange County Fair open for 23 fun-filled days.
In honor of opening day, you can score on free parking and complimentary admission today if you hit the fair between noon and 1 p.m. The fair with the theme of "Home Sweet Home" will be open Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to midnight on Wednesdays - Fridays and 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.
General tickets are $11, seniors over 60 are $8, kids 6 to 12 are $6, children 5 and under are FREE.
There's tons to indulge in during the fair including bacon-wrapped turkey legs, pineapples filled with shrimp cocktail, deep fried cereal and two-pound beef ribs just to name a few. Food trucks will also be whipping up gourmet food every Thursday from noon to 10 p.m. See the full mouth-watering food guide here.
A variety of exhibits will be underway including Chocolate Unwrapped which will show fairgoers how chocolate is made through demonstrations. New to the fair this year, the Oasis Camel Dairy will share alternatives to the dairy cow with daily milking demonstrations from August 1-12 in Livestock. Celebrity chefs from Top Chef and Robert Irvine will take center stage in the Hangar on July 26 and Aug. 2, both shows are at 1 p.m. On July 19 and 28 food competitions will have food truck chefs go head-to head and on August 2 and 9 amateur home cooks take on professional chefs for bragging rights.
But wait, there's more.
Everyday free eating contests will be held for children in the Fun Zone Tent at 6:30 p.m. (registration is 30 minutes before each contest) and Knott’s Berry Farm will host a pie-eating contest for all-ages at 7 p.m. in the Exhibit Promenade (registration starts at 6:30 p.m.)
Avid action sports fans be sure to stop by the Action Sports Arena to catch demolition derbies, canine-agility demonstrations, motocross, BMX jumping and more. All action sports are free with fair admission.
Save on Tickets:
- Kids Free on Thursdays – Children 12 and younger will get into the fair for free on Thursdays.
- Heroes Always Free - All members of the military - active and veteran - get free admission to the fair everyday with an ID.
- Seniors Day –Senior citizens 60 and older can enjoy the fair with the family for $2 off all day Fridays, plus free merry-go-round and Ferris wheel rides.
- Rise & Shine – Admission is $2 during the first hour Saturdays and Sundays from 10 to 11 a.m.
- We Care Wednesday – Help the community by donating through the fair’s weekly community drives and receive free admission and one free carnival ride. Donations accepted from Noon-4 p.m. on: July 18 – 5 canned food items; July 25 – 1 new or 3 gently used children’s books; August 1 – 5 gently used items of clothing; and August 8 – 1 school supply worth at least $5.
- Fair Express - Get discounted tickets to the fair and forget about hunting for a parking spot by riding the Fair Express, a bus directly to and from the fair from eight O.C. locations. The ride costs $1.50 each way, but comes with a coupon for $2 admission. The bus will run hourly every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the fair, which is open through Aug. 12. It will drop riders off in front of the fair's yellow gate. Get more info .
- Taste of Fair Food: Every Friday from noon-4 p.m., fairgoers can sample their way through the fair for only $2 a taste. Fair vendors will be selling samples of ice cream, pulled pork, shave ice, funnel cake, fried Oreos, sausage and more.
- Read & Ride Program – Children (5-11) who submit a completed two-book report form available on ocfair.com will receive three free carnival rides.
- Carnival Promotions – Ultimate thrill-seekers can enjoy $30 unlimited ride wristbands on Wednesday and Thursday and $2 rides and games on Friday.
- Super Pass - Fair lovers can purchase a Super Pass which grants one free admission to every day of the fair, in addition to other discounts. General Super Passes are $35, Seniors $30 and Youth $25. Super Pass holders can also receive 2-for-1 Terrace seats to select Pacific Amphitheatre concerts, a 20 percent discount to select events in the Action Sports Arena and The Hangar, access to express lanes to enter the Fair and a carnival coupon book.
The fair wraps up on August 12. For more 2012 OC Fair information, smartphone users can download the fair’s free iPhone and Android apps from the Apple Store and Google Play.
Last year more than 1.4 million people attended the fair and similar crowds are expected this year.
Tickets are available at ticketmaster or at the O.C. Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa.