The 2023 edition of the Orange County Fair began on Friday, featuring its first new exhibit since the pandemic as well as a return of many longtime favorites.
"We're very excited about a brand new exhibit," Orange County Fair CEO Michele Richards told City News Service. The exhibit features the original large hand-painted billboards that touted the release of now-iconic albums, Richards said.
Richards said. "We worked with this company before on smaller projects and they partnered with a company that bought up all of those billboards from Hollywood and they approached us actually a couple of years ago about doing this exhibit.
The billboards feature works of Madonna, David Bowie, Prince and others, Richards said.
"There's one of Tom Jones and the Smashing Pumpkins is in there," she said. "The music (featured in the exhibit) goes from the '40s and '50s all the way to the present day."
The crowds will continue to be controlled this year with no on-site tickets available. All tickets must be bought in advance of a visit online. Fair organizers say the smaller crowds provide a more pleasant experience for the customers.
The cost is $60 for the fair.
Another new perk at the fair is unlimited water at no cost for visitors who bring their own thermos or bottle, Richards said. Visitors can also buy a souvenir water bottle and refill it with chilled, filtered water at filling stations throughout the fairgrounds, Richards said.
The fair will feature three new carnival rides.
"One is called Joker 360," Richards said. "We also have a brand new roller coaster called Rafter that looks very gnarly. And a ride called the Slingshot... The ride shoots you up the air 70 feet. It literally slings you into the air."
As for fair food, Richards said, "There's some really good stuff this year. There's always crazy food at the fair, but we're really excited about the new stuff because we think it will appeal to a wide range of palettes"
One is a Maple Bacon Smoothie "for those super bacon fans," Richards said.
"There's a fruit pizza," she said. "And deep-fried s'mores. I'm really looking forward to that one."
California Grill will serve up all vegan and vegetarian fare, she said.
"That's a first time at the fair," she said. "Our customers asked for it and we're delivering it."
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