Sig Alert-style traffic on the 55 South begins this Friday. The OC Fair might only be 23 days of the year, but it's a reason for excessive amounts of sunshine, fried eats and the occasional concert. Most people want to be entertained and thrilled. Me? I get that from the seasonal bliss of Chicken Charlie's menu and a good parking spot. And let's not forget concert tickets include fair admission, unlike their LA counterpart. Here are the five food-related reasons why this year, summer starts at the fairgrounds.
5. The Beer
They're throwing a Brew Hee Haw opening weekend. I counted 30 breweries and at least 60 beers being served. A 21-and-over round up, bring the designated driver along and meet back at the rides. Heck, bounce between the fair and Hee Haw if you want– this event includes entry to both. Guest speakers from Stone Brewing, Ritual, Cismontane, and TAPS are scheduled to appear. Advance purchase is $50, but you add a fiver if you wait until day of. Wanting to know more? Head to ocbrewheehaw.com for information. Extra incentive: Saturday and Sunday afternoon sessions are offering tickets to same-day Pacific Ampitheatre concerts.
4. The Competition
For four consecutive Friday nights beginning July 18, some of our favorite chefs will be duking it out in the kitchen. Catch an opportunity to see them out of their home base and root for your favorite! I'll be there the first night judging their "Earth" theme when chefs Raya Belna and Danny Godinez throw down. July 25 "Water" features Mike Doctulero of Scott's Restaurant and Ben Wallenbeck of Ways & Means Oyster House. August 1 "Air" duels Haven's Greg Daniels with Alfonso Ramirez of Pinot Provence. Last, but not least, August 8 pits ARC's Noah Blom with Maro Wood Grill's Debra Sims in "Fire".
Celebs of the food world are pretty friendly folk. We like them for their contributions to television, pop culture and tasty cuisine. They're also entertaining to listen to. The fair lined up a trio of appearances for your Thursday viewing pleasure. First up, Carla Hall and her charms will grace the stage on July 17. The series continues with Roy Choi, Kogi founder and co-producer of the movie Chef on July 24. Kelsey's Essentials Kelsey Nixon wraps up their chef visits on July 31.
2. Exhibit Promenade
I'm talking the shaded place where much of the food-centric action is taking place. Fruit and veggie, table settings, baked goods and confections, and sugar arts are all being judged for ribbons and bragging rights. It's a chill place to visit between rides and meals, with lots of seating when stage events aren't scheduled.
1. The Food
The real reason we're all here. Our opening photo was of Chicken Charlie himself, modeling his newest specialty: nacho cheese, deep-fried Doritos with ranch dip. Only being sold in Orange County, he perfected the idea suggested last summer. La Super Costilla is also back, but with a gluten-free sauce option. Expect cherry Pop Rocks on massive doughnuts from one vendor, and Jack Daniels shots in hollowed out churros from our pals at Bacon-A-Fair. Round that out with some 40th anniversary Tasti Chips or crunchy fries from Pink's. Then stick a fork in yourself and pass out on those foot vibrator thingys. Man, those are effective.
To win a pair of tickets to this year's OC Fair, comment below with your favorite treat consumed at the fair. We'll select a winner 24 hours from now…have fun!