Live.Eat.Grow. That was the 2011 Orange County Fair's motto. Eat. That was the big draw to the fair for me. So when I got the invitation to go with some family members, I couldn't decline. This wasn't the first time I've gone though. I've gone to the OC Fair a few years back was was pretty disappointed. Overpriced foods combined with an inapprecation of the variety of deep fried foods made it a bad day out for me. Maybe I've matured or maybe I wasn't able to see that the OC Fair in itself was a new culture inside the bustling Orange County. Whatever it was, things have changed for me. Boy, have they changed.
The OC Fair is where you'll find a huge myriad of different people. Seniors with straw hats, hell, people in their twenties with straw hats, families with kids of all ages, high schoolers, amateur food bloggers like myself, and an acapellego group seen above. Parents love taking their kids here to enjoy the petting zoo and to see the sights, adults love an excuse to get buzzed off of the $10 beers here and guys like to take their dates out here.
But what is there to do here? The first thing people think of are the animals. And yes, there are animals.
From cows to chickens to goats to llamas, there is no shortage of animals seen at the fair. One can enjoy an elephant ride for under $10 and kids can buy feeding seeds to feed the animals. Of course, many of these animals are also off limits and cannot be petted.
Animals, of course, are just a small representation of our food and our culture. The barn -- the farm itself -- is nothing without plants and farmed fruits and vegetables. Agriculture is a huge part of the culinary world too and the OC Fair does not have a shortage of horticulture.
The OC Fair has a beautiful garden of flowers, fruits, and vegetables for the public to see. It displays its tomatoes and a huge variety of different flowers. Beautiful blooming flowers fighting for sunlight, fighting for their spotlight at the OC Fair makes for wonderful photos but just a more relaxing time. Give the flowers a chance and you will be rewarded with zen. Really... maybe not.
But there's no talk of a fair without its deep fried goodness. Appreciation for deep fried foods at a fair shouldn't stem from the lust of deep fried and greasy foods, but an appreciation for a new culture that you've just got yourself into. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the deep fried foods are better because it's at the fair, because it's not. But to enjoy your stay here, you have to enjoy it's heart. And that beating, pumping heart of the fair has not been stopped by the cholesterol of the deep fried foods. But quite the contrary, the culinary gift of the fair comes from the creativity -- or the balls -- of the food vendors. Deep fried butter? I'm not there yet. But there were deep fried kool aid and deep fried oreos that I just had to try.
Okay, I'm not going to lie. The deep fried kool aid was bad. Batter, mixed with kool aid and thrown onto the deep fryer. The oreos? Well, as you'd expect. Oreo heavily battered, deep fried with some melted chocolate to taste.
But the deep fried frenzy wasn't it. The turkey leg, popularized by Disneyland makes an appearance at the OC Fair as well. The Disneyland leg is known for its juicy and tenderness -- something that was lacking here at the fair. But beer makes everything better. How about a cold Shocktop guys?
Lunch is merely just a break from the festivities offered at the fair. Many other activities were available. There was a small ice museum...
A ton of rides for the kids...
And wine tasting for adults...
Whatever you're looking for, you'll find it at the OC Fair. You'll just have to look. Don't make the mistake I did the first time around. Food, family, fun, and good ol' Southern California sunshine.
Remember, live, eat, grow.
88 Fair Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626