Despite limited capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at the Orange County Fair rebounded following last year’s cancellation to more than 1 million visitors, officials said Monday.
Attendance was capped at about 75% each day to allow for social distancing, but preliminary figures show the annual event, which ran from July 16 through Sunday, still passed the 1 million mark.
The fair, which was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, drew 1,383,482 visitors in 2019.
“While we’re so pleased that more than a million people came out to support the return of the OC Fair this year, increased attendance is no longer a number by which we will measure the success of the fair,” OC Fair & Event Center CEO Michele Richards said after presiding over her first Orange County fair.
“More important to us is the great guest experience we were able to create, our ability to responsibly manage our resources and achieve profitability, and our efforts to be good neighbors and support the community in times of need,” she said.
Fair officials do not have exact attendance figures yet because for the first time this year, all tickets had to be purchased in advance and officials are awaiting audited figures from Ticketmaster, said Terry Moore, a spokeswoman for the fair. In the past, the county was able to scan in physical tickets, making it easier to tabulate them more quickly.
The tickets were sold in advance this year as part of pandemic protocol. Officials expect more exact attendance figures in the next few days.
The highest-ever attendance was in 2018, when it reached 1,470,636.
In 2009, attendance was 1,072,018, so this year’s number is close to that.
This year’s county fair featured 16 sold-out days out of 23. It was the first time the fair had sell-out days, but it was also the first time tickets were capped out at about 45,000 daily, officials said.
Fair officials allowed for two extra hours ,with gates opening at 10 a.m. instead of noon.
“We are so proud of the economic impact OC Fair has on Orange County, generating $300 million in revenue and creating over 3,000 jobs,”said OC Fair Board Chair Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia.
Although the 23 days of the fair have to come to an end, we are so grateful for the success of the fair and the support from our community and look forward to the 2022 Fair,” she said. “On behalf of the board, I’d like to thank staff, partners and guests for making this OC Fair such a wonderful event.”
The fair also featured nine sold-out concerts at the Pacific Amphitheatre. The amphitheater’s concert season will be longer than usual this year with performances still to come from the Goo Goo Dolls on Aug. 25 and the Flaming Lips on Aug. 26, ending with country singer Hank Williams Jr. on Sept. 23.
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