Home Sweet Home! OCFair Opening Day – Top 5 Tips For Surviving #OCFair

The “Home Sweet Home” themed OCFair 2012 opened on July 13, 2012 to a huge crowd of thousands of fans from across the country. We had to be there for all of the excitement and gathered a group of foodies to enjoy the fun! The Orange County Fair has grown from a small community celebration to a huge 23 day celebration. Last year a record 1.4 million people attended the fair. This year the fair is scheduled to open Wednesday thru Sunday on July 13 – August 12. The There’s No Place Like Home themed event is a tribute to the love of food and respect for the environment in which it is grown. The focus is also on locally grown, sustainable concepts and up-cycled creativity.


We were so excited about the theme and calendar of events that we purchased full passes for the entire 23 days! Let’s just see how many times I can go to the fair for lunch during the 23 day extravaganza, especially on $2 OCFair Food Fair days!

Here are my Top 5 Tips for surviving the OCFair.

#1: Wear comfortable clothing, a hat & take Cash:

I had the shoes and outfit all planned out. Little cute flat shoes with a denim dress and an orange hat. However, I did not take any cash. Thankfully between my purse, car & pockets I found $7. The Fair parking costs $7 Cash and doesn’t accept credit cards or debit cards for parking. Some of the vendors also do not accept debit or credit cards. I had to get a couple dollars from the ATM to buy food and paid a $3 service charge to use the ATM. Thankfully there are many ATMs scattered throughout the park. However, to avoid delays and service charges make sure to take plenty of cash.

#2: Make it a Day trip and Take a group of family and/or friends:

Life is about creating memories with the people you love. Consider getting a group of people or family members together and making OCFair a memorable day trip. I’ve been working in the OC for over 16 years and have never attended the OC Fair. Getting together with my foodie friends is something I will always remember. Sharing the experience with friends made my first visit to the OCFair extra special and FUNtastic! There are so many things to see at the fair including crafts, educational demonstrations, food exhibits, celebrity chefs, livestock, musicians, performers and more. Check the daily events calendar online or pick one up at the gate for all the the details.

My favorites performers were the Peking Acrobats. However, the most memorable exhibit is the Let Freedom Ring exhibit located in the Family Fairway. The exhibit features steel beam sections from the World Trade Center and is meant to serve as a tangible reminder of the events that occurred during September 11, 2001 and a symbol of renewal, inspiration, unity and hope for our nations future. There is also a daily tribute for heroes It also has a small park to sit and reflect.

#3: It’s all about the Food! Eat lots of food, be merry & share:

I shared my food with fellow foodies and we were able to enjoy more food than when I go to the fair with smaller groups. I ate Kettle Corn, Chicken Charlie’s Maui chicken with fresh pineapples, a Fried Oreo, a Veggie Kabob and a Pasilla Chile with pepper jack cheese. Take advantage of the $2 Taste of Fair Food Days which occur every Friday from Noon-4pm. Purchase $2 items from the food vendors for a delicious time with family and friends.

Every Thursday is Food Truck Fare Thursday. Check the Food Truck lineup for schedule of trucks in attendance.

The Courtyard Wine seminars is the perfect stop for wine enthusiasts. Enjoy cheese & wine pairing with 8 award winning wines on Saturday and Sunday.

The exhibit is located in the heart of the Home Sweet Home exhibit at the Exhibit Promenade and includes a chocolate lovers paradise at the Chocolate unwrapped exhibit to enjoy divine all natural chocolate making demonstrations by Xan Confections. Robert Irvine the Host of the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible will be there on July 26 and Fabio Viviani, Finalist on the fifth season of Bravo’s Top Chef on August 2. All demonstrations will include Q&A followed by autograph signing. Chef Ray Presents owner will be at the Fair creating amazing fruit and vegetable sculptures. Greggy Soriano Cake Lush & Pastry chef and celebrity cake designer will also be at the OC Fair daily creating cake designs.

#4: Buy the SUPER PASS:

If you’re planning on returning to the OCFair more than three times and/or considering attending a Pacific Amphitheatre event make sure to purchase the Super Pass. The benefits of purchasing a Super Pass includes Admission to the OC Fair for all 23 days. Express entry at all the Fair gates, 2-for-1 concert tickets for select Pacific Amphitheatre events, 20% off select events in the Hangar and Action Sports Avenue, a carnival ticket book.

#5 OC Fair Admission & Carnival promotions:

One of the things I admire about the OCFair is its Philanthropy. OCFair supports local community efforts by giving back to the community & families with promotions that pay tribute to our military veterans and discounts to make the OCFair a family event. The OCFair also provides a way for visitors to give back with WE CARE WEDNESDAY promotions.

Here is a summary of the OC Fair Admission & Carnival promotions during July 13-August 12:

  • Everyday is HEROES GET IN FREE Day! Active military or veterans get a FREE admission daily with ID.
  • Every Thursday is Kids Day. Children 12 and under get FREE Admission. All day.
  • Every Friday is Seniors Day. $2 off senior admission plus free Ferris wheel and merry-go-round rides — all day.
  • Every Friday from Noon-4pm is $2 Taste of Fair Food Day.
  • Every Friday is $2 Rides and $2 games Day. Sold until 4pm.
  • Every Saturday & Sunday between 10am-11am is Rise and Shine Day – $2 Admission
  • $30 unlimited carnival rides every Wednesday & Thursday plus 2 free games. Sold until 5pm. Valid until 8pm.
  • July 18 – Food Drive. WE CARE WEDNESDAYS. Bring 5 canned food items for FREE Admission
  • July 25 – Children’s Book Drive. WE CARE WEDNESDAYS. Bring 1 new children’s book or 3 gently used children’s books for FREE Admission
  • August 1 – Clothing Drive. WE CARE WEDNESDAYS. Bring 5 gently used clothing items for FREE Admission
  • August 8 – School Supply Drive. WE CARE WEDNESDAYS. Bring 1 new school supply item valued $5 or more for FREE Admission.

Make sure to check out the www.ocfair.com for calendar of events and daily promotion details.

There’s No Place Like Home! Enjoy your visit to the OCFair.

Question: Have you ever attended a local fair? What is your most memorable experience at the fair? What is your favorite food to eat at the fair? What additional tips do you have for someone attending OC Fair 2012?


Eva Smith

Publisher at Tech Life Magazine
Eva is an award winning entrepreneur and Publisher of Tech Life Magazine. She has been recognized by Ford Motor Company as a Mujer Legendaria Inteligente (Smart Entrepreneur), USA Today Magazine as a Top Blogger to Watch and Latina Magazine as a Top 25 Latinas Who Shine in Technology. Her work has also been featured on Mashable, Mom.me, Babble, Baby Center, Latinamom.me, USA Today, Latina Magazine, Huffington Post, National Parks Services, Voxxi, NBC Latino, Rolling Stone Magazine & more.She is technologist, engineer, bilingual freelance writer, speaker and digital media consultant.


  1. Me encanta ir a las ferias! Sobre todo si vas en grupo y aprovechas para degustar diferentes platos de comida (-:

  2. mmmmmm deep fried oreos mmmmmmmmm

  3. Great great list of things to do/plan before going! The fair can be overwhelming! I for one always forget cash! I’m so used to using visa/debit I forget to get cash! LOL.

  4. Comprehensive coverage. But I must say fairs of any kind cause involuntary vomiting. It’s the roller coasters. Now that I’m old I can’t even look at them without getting nauseous.

  5. Awesome can’t wait to take the kids think we may be there Thursday!!!!

  6. I’ve been going to the Orange County Fair since I was a little girl. I’ve started the tradition now with my own kids. Summer would not be complete without a trip to the Fair! I love the silhouette artist in the artist strip.
    Wear comfortable shoes and bring lots of cold water!

  7. This is my favorite fair of all time. I love that they have a famiy lounging area for breastfeeding and diaper changing. It’s also so, so clean and organized.

  8. These are so great for this “Fair Newbie”. Thanks!

  9. I love all the unusual fried foods. Twinkies and snicker bars…. fried pickles. I will make it out to the fair…. looks like lots of fun.

  10. Great tips Eva! I always forget to take cash!

  11. Thanks for the cash tip. I am heading there tomorrow and would have been screwed when I got to the parking lot!

  12. We LOVE the fair and we’re heading over this weekend! Yay! Fabulous tips….and I love your photos!!!!

  13. Wish I lived closer so I could take my whole family. We took the kids to their first fair this year and it was so much fun. I’ve always loved fairs.

  14. I love the theme for this year. We may have to cross down to the OC. I’m sure the girls would love it.

  15. What a fun feria. I’ve not to on in years! The closest I got to one recently was in Monaco, of all places! It was so elaborate with the backdrop being the sea and yachts! 🙂

  16. this sounds like a great time! I have never been to OC. Gotta make it happen 🙂

  17. Very cool. We’re not lucky enough to have anything this big where we live, but we try to go to as many events as possible throughout the year because they make such good memories. ♥

  18. My husband always takes my daughter…when I go to the fair, my favorite is seeing the animals and chickens (in Tennessee!)

  19. I was going to say the food and then I saw your pics and the fancy food that’s offered at the OC Fair. WOW how times have changed, no?! I also like the themed-days, especially the community service-focused food drive.


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