We’ve gone to the OC Fair every summer for the past 10 years. My husband and I first visited the day after we got married and we’ve been bringing our kids every year. Our OC Fair days have remained the same year after year. I didn’t realize it until recently, but our oldest daughter is a creature of habit. She remembers what we did at the fair in years past even down to the food we eat and where to sit at her favorite Pig Races. They look forward to reliving these traditions and start asking when the OC Fair is coming to town.
Our first stop is always the Russell Family Circus. Since it is located right by the Green Gate where we usually enter, the girls always want to sit for a show no matter how many times we have seen it. The tricks are always the same year after year–our favorite trick is when he turns the dove into a cat!
After the Circus, we head to the girls’ favorite OC Fair show–the all Alaskan Racing Pigs! It is clear on the other side of the fairgrounds, so I always use the Sky Ride as a guide and follow it down to the Livestock area. We try to arrive at least a half hour before the show times to secure our favorite spots in the shade by the piggy starting gates. I recommend bringing a blanket if your kids would like to sit right by the track. Later in the show, they do pick four kids to be piggy cheering leaders–it is LittleGray’s life mission to get picked! Her favorite pig is Strawberry and this pig is solely responsible for intense pig obsession. After the race, you can pay $10 to meet and take a picture with one of the racing pigs which is always my favorite souvenir from the OC Fair.
We take advantage of the Read and Ride Program to enjoy 3 free carnival rides if you read two books and completely a book report form. You can find the form on the OC Fair website. The program is open to kids 5-11, but the ride tickets can be shared among the family and does not have to be redeemed that day. The ride ticket is good for any carnival ride, even the 20 ticket air conditioned Grande XL Ferris Wheel! But again, the girls are creatures of habit and always pick the motorcycle ride and the truck ride. If rides are your thing, you should definitely check out the $35 Unlimited Ride wristband deal On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. On Fridays, games and rides are just $2. More information can be found here.
New this year is the My Fair Selfie exhibit located right by the Green Gate. I had the opportunity to preview this with my girlfriends and I knew LittleGray and LittleSage would want to take some photos with the dressed up piggies. You will find a number of creative backdrops complete with props and friendly workers to help you take as many selfies and boomerangs as you like! This used to be an extra ticketed exhibit but it is now FREE with your OC Fair Admission. Right outside the exhibit is a small gift kiosk where you’ll find exclusive OC Fair merchandise including the exclusive piggy mitts!
Some of our favorite family experience have taken place at the Action Sports Arena. This is where you’ll find rotating shows like the Demolition Derby and Equestrian show. On the night we went, it was a Monster Truck and BMX show. You can buy a reserved ticket to any of the Action Sports shows which means you don’t have to line up and fight to get bleacher seats (the seats are also all in the shade!). Tickets start at just $14 and includes your OC Fair admission, so it is an extremely good value if you’d like a relaxing show experience. To find a list of shows and to purchase tickets through Ticketmaster, you can visit the website here.
What is everyone’s top priority when visiting the OC Fair? The FOOD! My favorite is the frozen corn drink available at the stand with the huge inflatable corn. If you like salted caramel and things that are buttered popcorn flavored, you will enjoy this drink! My husband’s favorite is the Porkabello Skewer which features bacon wrapped stuffed mushrooms. It’s become our tradition to always get freshly made chocolate chip cookies. The most grammable dessert I’ve found was the Unicorn Nitro pop which can be found by the huge Grande XL Ferris Wheel (I walked around the entire fair trying to find this!). This beautiful snack is rainbow circus popcorn quickly freeze dried in liquid nitrogen served atop freshly spun cotton candy. Pro tip: if you’re trying to find a specific food item, you can visit any information booth where they have a food guide completely with photos!
I always here from people that the fair is “so expensive”, but if you go on the right days, it can be a very low cost outing! Kids ages 5 and under are FREE! Every Wednesday is “We Care Wednesday” where you can get free admission by bringing in a donation of the week. The free ticket also includes one free carnival ride so I sometimes bring in extra donations just to get the extra ride. On Thursdays, kids 12 and under get in free all day, and adults get in free until 3pm if you wear overalls to celebrate “#freeyourinnerfarmer”. They also have $3 Taste of the Fair day on Thursdays which is a great way to indulge in Fair treats without breaking the bank. For a complete list of discounts and fine print, you can find it here.
I’ve been sharing our OC Fair days over on our Instagram account and even put them all up on our OC Fair highlights section. There you’ll find all of our insider tips and secrets along with the best way to navigate the fair. What are your OC Fair traditions?