Orange County Fair Breaks Attendance Record

The fate of the Orange County Fairgrounds may be in limbo, but people's love of it during the annual OC Fair is not in doubt.

The 2010, 120th anniversary fair run broke attendance records with  1,154,969 visitors.

That beat previous best year 2007 by nearly half a million guests.

Seven of the 1,154,969 Orange County Fair visitors this 120th year.
Seven of the 1,154,969 Orange County Fair visitors this 120th year.
Photo by Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly

Indeed, the questions surrounding who will ultimately own the fairgrounds and what will be operated there seemed to help bring out the crowds, according to Steve Beazley, the OC Fair & Event Center CEO.

A city of Costa Mesa plan to purchase the fairgrounds from the state for $96 million and have a local private company run it is awaiting the approval of the California Legislature, as the land is currently part of a state Agricultural District. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed off on the deal.

Some visitors came out during the 23-day run--held between the dates of July 16 and Aug. 15--believing this might be the final year of the fair at the Costa Mesa location, Beazley reportedly told Daily Pilot.

"I look at fair attendance as a poll," he said. "It shows the community really values the fair."

He likened the recorded-breaking year to winning the Super Bowl, adding, "It's very fulfilling, as event producers, to see things go how you envisioned them."

Speaking of popularity, based on attendance:

  • The top five rides in the Main Carnival were La Grande Wheel, Sky Ride, Hi Miler, Euroslide and The Wave.

  • The top five rides in the Kiddie Carnival were Pirate's Island, Survivor Island, Lil Dipper, Bumble Bees and Silver Streak.
  • The top four events in the Action Sports Arena were Motorhome Madness Demolition Derby; Orange Crush Demolition Derby, X-treme Freestyle Moto-X and Bull Riding.

The Pilot shared these numbers when it came to mass consumption . . .

4,000 gallons of soybean oil and 12,000 pounds of flour were used by Chicken Charlie, a long-standing vendor that serves fried desserts and other foods.

2,000 jumbo funnel cakes were eaten. Only one person beat the challenge to finish a cake solo.

8,000 deep-fried butters were sold.

1,500 pieces of deep-fried chocolate-covered bacon were sold.

$174,312 in sales by local 4-H and Future Farmers of America members at the Junior Livestock Auction

19 piglets and a calf were born at Centennial Farms, the fair's agriculture exhibit.

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