The 128th annual Orange County Fair will begin Friday in Costa Mesa, featuring diet blasters like the Peanut butter, jelly and Siracha funnel cake and deep-fried filet mignon on a stick, a comedic team-up of Steve Martin and Martin Short and a “pop-up museum of selfies.”
The fair, featuring a “Free Your Inner Farmer” theme, will kick off at noon. The OC Fair is the second largest one in the state and eighth largest in North America, said Kathy Kramer, chief executive of the fair.
“The Concessionaires never cease to amaze me with their creativity,” Kramer said of this year’s food at the fair.
“When I went to the cupboard to make peanut butter and jelly I never thought about putting Siracha on it,” Kramer said.
There’s also “deep-fried cheese curds, mac and cheese bites, and shrimp and cheese jammers,” Kramer said, adding that another vendor will serve up “lasagna nachos with pasta chips.”
“I’m gaining 10 pounds just thinking about it,” she said.
She is also looking for the “Pine and Swine,” which is sourdough bread with butter, garlic, cheddar mozzarella cheese with pineapple and ham.
The annual fair focuses on agriculture this year with “did you know” notes throughout the fairgrounds, Kramer said.
“We’re really focusing on the people of agriculture and getting people to understand where their food comes from,” she said.
And if visitors can really show their dedication to agriculture by wearing overalls to the fair then they can get free admission on Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m., Kramer said.
This year’s fear also features murals by California artist John Cerney honoring local farmers and ranchers. Visitors can download an app that tells the stories of the various farmers and ranchers featured in the murals.
The pop-up museum of selfies combines two trends, Kramer said. Visitors will get a chance to snap pictures of themselves next to giant cotton candy displays and another exhibit of the “different iterations of bacon,” she said.
In the Action Sports arena this year will debut a new daredevil show of motorcycle stunts such as a “motorcycle highwire” act. The demolition derby this year will feature monster trucks for the first time, Kramer said.
The Hangar, where tribute bands typically rule the roost, will feature original bands Firefall, Poco and Foghat this year, she said.
In the carnival area, new rides include the “Flying Jumbo,” which features a “soaring elephant,” and the “Konga in the Midway,” which boasts “high-speed, side-to-side movements while looking over the crowd,” Kramer said. “And it also has a water feature so riders may get wet.”
At the Heroes Hall exhibit, visitors can utilize virtual reality goggles to experience emerging technology that can take participants through a virtual combat experience. The technology has been used by psychological experts to help combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Discounts include “Sunday Funday,” which allows visitors to gain entrance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $7 and half off of carnival rides. Visitors may also pay $35 for unlimited carnival rides until 4 p.m.