On Saturday, I introduced Dan to one of my favorite summer traditions, the fair. Although smaller, I actually prefer the Orange County Fair to the Los Angeles County Fair. It feels more manageable and has a better layout. Although we didn't catch a concert, I love the Pacific Amphitheater venue.
Going to the fair reminds me of my mom. My mom loved going to the fair. More specifically, she loved to eat at the fair. My mom wasn't someone who found much enjoyment in food. 364 days of the year, she barely ate. It was as if she was saving up to turn into a total glutton for one day at the fair. My rail thin mom became a bottomless pit. You've never seen anyone be able to consume so much cotton candy. It still boggles my mind. Our yearly trips to the fair are one of my fondest memories of my mom.
Dan and I woke up extra early on Saturday to take advantage of the early-bird weekend offer. The OC Fair has a promotion that from ten-eleven am on weekends, admission is only three dollars. This is a savings of eight dollars a ticket...sixteen dollars saved to spend on junk food! A lot of other people had a similar idea and the fair was packed within the opening hour.
I have years of experience working at a major theme park, however, that did not help me make wise decisions when navigating the fair. Like total novices, we stopped first at the exhibits closest to the entrance gates.
The first thing that we checked out was the Millennium Barn. One of my favorite pictures is the resting ow framed by the barn doors.
I'm a sucker for anything that looks like a circus side-show and was immediately drawn to Dr. Entomo's Palace of Exotic Wonders! The Palace was an educational entomology exhibit. It's tiny and they only let a small number of people in the building at a time. It's worth doing, if there is no line or if you're really into entomology. I like the attention grabbing creativity that pulled us over to the exhibit.
We kicked off our food binge with chocolate covered bacon for breakfast. It's not as good as one might imagine (or maybe you think it sounds disgusting) and we threw a majority of it away. The biggest problem is it was frozen solid and actually felt like it hurt my teeth to eat. Not fun.
Since the chocolate covered bacon wasn't up to our breakfast standards, we naturally turned to fresh fried potato chips dipped in cheese for our second course.
Third course was amazing truffles that were being sold near the prize winning cake exhibit.
After breakfast, we decided that a burger would be perfect for lunch. The fair grounds has a cafe right in the middle, which is a great spot if you want to escape the crowd. We ate inside, where we found plenty of tables. The prices were on par with the rest of the fair food, which is to say, over-priced. However, it's not like you go to a fair expecting great bargains on junk food! Unfortunately, the burger came with more potato chips.
Dan marveled at the sheer volume of BBQ meat being sold at the fair. He pointed out a disappointment in that although there is a lot of food, it's very repetitive throughout the event. For example, Juicy's Texas BBQ seems to have a monopoly. They seemed to be every other stall. Where's the variety?
I was too busy eating to take a picture of my last and best course, a caramel apple chopped up and served in a cup. This is my favorite fair food tradition. I know that I can make it at home and I often do, but there is something about eating it at the fair that makes it special.
Speaking of eating, Overeaters Anonymous had a booth right in the middle of all of the food vendors. They were not so popular!
One of the coolest things at the OC Fair was a giant Sandcastle!
I really enjoy the award winning crafts, especially the cakes.
We saw quilts, handmade cards, model houses...
Dan played around on flight simulator with a model airplane club.
He also found a new potential hobby in Woodworking. The people at the Orange County Woodworkers Association couldn't have been nicer or more helpful in answering Dan's questions. They had some really cool wood crafts on display.
We took a look at the prize winning flowers, fruits and vegetables. The name Jeremy is intentionally etched into the pumpkin as a tribute to a boy who had passed away.
A trip to the fair would not be complete without a few rides. We bought twenty dollars worth of tickets, which got us on exactly two rides.
The first ride was a skyway trip across the fair giving us a great view of the entire event.
Our second ride was on the giant Ferris Wheel. It was an unusually cold, gloomy day for July and it began to sprinkle.
Being a former theme park employee, I'm always interested in ride safety.
And I'm not sure how appropriate this game is for a family event.
I saved the best for last...the animals! My favorite part of any fair is the live stock. We saw this adorable pig drinking a bottle of water.
And this calf getting a bath.
But the best thing that we saw was a pen full of curious goats...
The goats were utterly fascinated by the enormous turkey that was being walked by their pen. We were fascinated too!
We saw many beautiful animals. I didn't get a picture, but one of my favorite things was a little boy who was taking a nap on his pig's belly. They were just cuddled up together.
If you want to see the All Alaskan Pig Races ( and you should) make sure to arrive early for a good seat in the grandstands. We showed up just minutes prior to the races and had a standing room only/partially blocked view. The races are a lot of fun and the announcers really "ham" it up with getting the audience prepped and showing off the pigs. The actual race is a 'blink and you'll miss it" thing. The track is short and the pigs are very eager to run back in their pens for a treat. It's very adorable though and is a must see fair activity.
Some of the sadder animals at the fair are in the freak show section. These include the giant steer and giant horse. Each costs a dollar to go inside of a tent, where the animal is tied up in a too small pen. The animals are quite impressive and live up to the hype, but they seem so sad, especially in contrast to the other fair animals, that I left the tents feeling terrible for having supported the business. It's not the first time that I have paid to look at the animals, but it's the first time that I left feeling guilty about it. Never again.
Our trip to the OC Fair was a big success. We left after about five hours of fair fun with bellies full of junk food. As we were pulling out of the dirt parking lot, it started to pour rain. Our timing was impeccable.