July 13-Aug. 12, 2012
The OC Fair is "Home Sweet Home" To Thousands of People
By C. MacDonald
Willie Nelson can't wait to get on
the road again. And that's what he
did after singing in the Pacific
Amphitheatre on the Orange County
Fair's opening night.
Ironically, this year's exciting Fair has the theme, "Home Sweet Home." Willie's home is on the road with his friends but to thousands of people, the OC Fair is their home to come to year after year. It's where they reunite with family and friends. It's where they see world-class acts like Willie. Most know the layout like their homes--Carnival Rides to the East, Action Sports and Livestock-Northeast, Parade of Products and Crafts in the Center, Centennial Farm to the Southwest....
They know just where to go to find the fastest thrill rides, the best product demonstrators, the most exciting entertainment and, of course, the tastiest foods. And this year's Fair seems to have more food vendors, offering a greater variety of eats than ever before. They love the home-style cooking, from turkey legs, ribs, corn, BBQ beef to bacon grilled cheese, blooming onions, funnel cake, bratwurst, burritos, pizza--you name it, this fair's got it. They even have Food Truck Fare Thursday, which is a delicious experience in itself.
Home is indeed where the heart is and you'll feel proud to be an American when you stand alongside steel beams from the World Trade Center, made famous on Sept. 11, 2001 (they're on Family Fair Way, between Green Gate and Park Plaza. Be sure and bring your camera to capture this part of history). They will inspire you, remembering the patriotic unity that came out of that shocking day, and the positive hopes you have for future generations. Be sure and catch the nightly Salute to Heroes Tribute Show in The Hangar. All military, active and veteran, get in the Fair free with appropriate ID.
The neat thing about this Home Fair is that folks of all ages, cultures and tastes merge together to have fun and at the same time assist others. The Fair has specific days for food, book and clothing drives to help the community. And what would a Home Fair be without cooking contests--cookies, cupcakes, chili, wings and salsa. There are cooking demonstrations by famous TV chefs like Robert Irvine of The Food Network, and Fabio Viviani from Bravo's Top Chef. Putting the "sweet" in Home Sweet Home is a decadent, delicious and divine Chocolate exhibit, including daily chocolate-making demos (Exhibit Promenade). I love to watch the fantastic demonstrators in the Carnival of Products (across from The Hanger). The way these talented men and women slice and dice and amaze the crowds with their wares, is truly worth the pitch.
Stopping by the Centennial Farm is a must. You might see a huge mother pig giving birth to a bunch of cute piglets; a milking demonstration inside the barn, or you can examine wonderful crops of corn, up close and personal. Some of the many crops (i.e., tomatoes, carrots, onions) are even available at one stand for donations. The crops were grown right there. Talk about Home Sweet Home.
From the Green Gate, I love walking along the road beneath the Sky Ride, taking in all the incredible aromas of fresh cooking Santa Maria Tri-Tips, Roasted Corn, Turkey Legs, Chicken Kabobs, Cinnamon Rolls, Grilled Sausages, Fresh Squeezed Lemonade and Waffle Fries. What's so enjoyable about walking around your Home Fair is hearing the screams and giggles of excitement, amazement and awe as everyone seems to turn into a kid again and really love what they're doing, what they're seeing, what they're tasting and what they're hearing. It's turning back the clock as grandfathers, their sons and granddaughters become one in age and spirit. I really related to this at the World Championships of Extreme Pogo, where unique athletes from around the globe competed to break records and go for the world championship title (near the Blue Gate). The things they did on pogosticks--both in height and endurance--are absolutely incredible.
I wish the Orange County Fair would never end but continue throughout the year. You better catch it while you can. It runs through August 12th and is open Wednesday through Sunday. Get there early, if you can, to get the best parking spots. Check out ocfair.com. The OC Fair is "Home Sweet Home!"