(To view a slideshow featuring the plants of the OC Fair, read more and scroll down to the end of the article.)
The 2011 Orange County Fair, held from July 15 to August 14 in Southern California, is just like any other fair. It entertains fairgoers with rides, live entertainment, new products, local artwork and crafts, live entertainment, animal shows and, best of all, plants!
The plants and garden of the OC Fair range from purely decorative hanging flower baskets to a field of corn to the largest tomato of the year. Although it has many similarities to fairs in more rural areas, the Orange County Fair differs because it allows city-dwellers to see how plants and animals help sustain us, and how they look before the end up on our dinner plates.
The Orange County Fairgrounds is home to Centennial Farm (founded in 1989), a year-round learning center that has a few livestock animals, as well as any type of vegetable you can imagine. They have the ubiquitous tomato and bean plants, but they also grow many exotic tropical fruit trees, such as banana and persimmon. During the Fair, the Centennial Farm area is home to expert seminars, a bonsai garden, cut flower competition and many more plant competitions.
FAST FACTS OF THE OC FAIR
- The Orange County Fair attracts more than a million visitors each year (more than 1,154,000 people attendend)
- It is the 9th largest fair in the United States
- General admission is $11, but be an “early bird” on the weekends and get in for $2. (Arrive between 10 and 11 a.m.)
- The OC Fair attracts many celebrities every year. This year’s celebrities included the band Weezer, Bill Cosby, Bob Dylan, etc.
- “Weird Al” Yankovic is a regular in the OC Fair’s entertainment lineup, and he travels to many fairs across the country.
- In 2009, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to have the public OC Fairgrounds & Event Center sold. After two lawsuits and a new governor (Jerry Brown), it seems that it will not be sold.
- Despite Orange County’s generally health-conscious ways, you will be hard pressed to find anything healthy at the OC Fair – although anything deep fried (butter, Twinkies, Oreos) or any kind of grilled meat is in great supply.
- See more information on the OC Fair at www.ocfair.com