Orange County Fair: We're No. 11 in the Country! OC Great Park: Cirque Shows Will Make Money!

Clowning around at the '09 fair.
Clowning around at the '09 fair.

As the battle rages over ownership of the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, the current OC Fair & Events Center operators are trumpeting the annual summertime event holding onto the No. 11 spot among the top fairs in the U.S.

Meanwhile, down the 405 at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, the city of Irvine is crowing about a study it commissioned that shows the upcoming Cirque du Soleil production at the so-called Great Park will make money.

Yes, people get paid for this stuff.
Costa Mesa, CA (December 23, 2009) - For the second year in a row, the OC Fair in Costa Mesa, CA, was named the No. 11 top U.S. fair by attendance by, an online source for news and facts about the fair industry. In 2009, the OC Fair saw 1,072,018 visitors through its gates for a 23-day run, July 10-August 9. In 2003, the OC Fair was ranked No. 21 and has jumped 10 spots to its current position. The Fair's strong year-over-year growth is an indicator that it is poised to break into the Top 10 in 2010, which will mark its 120th year.  

Do all those homeowners encircling the fairgrounds want to exceed that 1,072,018 attendance or 23 days of fairdom so the OC Fair can crack the top 10? Isn't keeping things at manageable levels what this whole fight over ownership of the fairgrounds is about? Just saying.

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Incidentally, No. 1 among the top 50 fairs and festivals throughout the nation based on final attendance is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Texas, which drew more than 1.8 million guests. Remember the days when rodeos and livestock exhibitions were the main attraction at the Orange County Fair? Ah, memories. Now it's all about puke-inducing rides,  deep-fried poopsicles and overpriced, uh, everything. And Weird Al's brain.

The fair operators' statement also singled out its "partner," Ray Cammack Shows (RCS), for being named by the No. 2 carnival in the industry. 

Coming to a Great Park near you next month.
Coming to a Great Park near you next month.
Cirque du Soleil

A new study by ERA/AECOM, a highly respected economic forecasting firm, finds that Cirque du Soleil performances at the Orange County Great Park will bring jobs, increased revenues at local business establishments, and more tax dollars to Orange County. The study was commissioned by the Orange County Great Park Corporation and presented as part of the Orange County Great Park Strategic Business Plan, outlining development goals and financial stability for the Park over the next ten years.

Excuse me, shouldn't a study on whether the foofy circus out of Montreal--what's it say--will bring jobs and increase tax dollars and revenue at local businesses been completed before the city of Irvine's Great Park Corp. board voted to plant the Canadians here for up to 10 years?

Cirque and the board agreed in May that a new touring show that sounds like a kiddie euphemism for vagina, Kooza, will begin a limited run at the Great Park on Jan. 8. The circus has the option to return as many as eight times through 2018.

Feast your eyes on the report here. It contends:

* Cirque will bring $2.4 million and 300 seasonal jobs to Orange County every year;

* The city's general fund will be boosted by $88,000 in tax revenues per season;

* Cirque will spend  $1.7 million in Orange County per production to operate, staff and promote the Irvine shows;

* Cirque will hire approximately 165 Southern Californians to help with site preparation, set up, tear down, ticket sales, and usher work;

* Cirque will bring 50 performers/artists and 100 support administrative staff, who will stay in Irvine hotels;

* Cirque will purchase groceries from local establishments to serve three meals per day to the 150 visiting staff members, and will purchase $40,000 in fuel to operate its equipment and kitchen;

* Cirque will spend approximately $50,000 in Southern California to transport its staff between the hotels and the performance venue at the Great Park;

* Cirque will spend an estimated $125,000 during seven weeks for rental of temporary office space and equipment;

* Local spending by Cirque includes promotional cost of $300,000 for advertising and marketing and $40,000 for a premiere grand opening event;

* Other cirque expenditures in Southern California will include approximately $20,000 for professional fees to lawyers, consultants, architects and engineers.

It's actually quite amazing the number crunchers the Great Park hired can come up with such precise figures when the length of Cirque runs are determined by ongoing ticket sales. Oh, well, heeeeeeere's Larry!

"Cirque du Soleil brings great value to the Great Park, the City of Irvine and all of Orange County," says Larry Agran, the Great Park Corp. board chairman, in a statement distributed by the parkers. "In addition to bringing world class entertainment to the Great Park, Cirque du Soleil benefits many facets of our local community by creating jobs and boosting sales at our local restaurants, hotels and business establishments."

"Cirque du Soleil will be the first tenant of our Festival Site, which is generating a lot of interest among large event organizers," adds Mike Ellzey, the Great Park Corp. CEO who personally negotiated with the French-Canadian circus folk. "The development of the Festival Site literally paves the way for other groups to bring their large events to the Great Park. As that happens, similar economic benefit will continue to flow into Orange County."

Oh, that ain't all that's flowing, buddy.

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