Contributing post by Justine Burgess
If you’re in Orange County, it’s more than likely you’ll be visiting the OC Fair in the coming weeks. Get ready, because it starts TODAY, July 12th, and runs through August 11th.
If you’re reading this early enough, you can take advantage of FREE admission and parking for the first hour on Friday, July 12th, noon- 1p.m. Even if you’re not quite ready now, we still have some great ways to save money while having fun with friends and family. My family and I go every year, and there are plenty of ways to keep this adventure wallet-friendly.
Discounts on Admission, Rides, and Food for the OC Fair
Kids Day. Every Thursday, kids 12 and under are FREE. Combine this with some carnival discounts (like the unlimited ride wristband) for a great day with the kids..
Senior Day. Every Friday, guest 60 and older can get a $2 discount on senior admission tickets, plus FREE carousel and Ferris wheel rides all day.
Rise and Shine Promotion. Saturdays and Sundays, get up early to save big! Admission is only $3 between 10am and 11am on weekends, so drink that coffee and get on the road!
Active-Duty Military and Veterans. FREE Fair admission every day with ID.
Another great option is to participate in We Care Wednesdays, donation drives that offer one free admission and one free carnival ride per person with the specified donation. My little guy and I participate in this every year, each Wednesday it’s offered. Donation requirements change weekly. Keep in mind donations are only accepted between noon and 4p.m. on these days, and NOT at the Arlington Gate 5. Donations WILL be accepted at the Blue, Green, and Yellow gates.
We Care Wednesdays dates and donations
July 17th- food drive. Please bring 5 cans of food. Bring something tasty.
July 24th- Children’s book drive. Bring 1 new children’s book or 3 gently used ones.
July 31st- Clothing drive. Bring 5 new or gently used clothing items. Sponsored by Goodwill.
August 7th- School supplies drive. Bring 1 new school supply item valued at $5 or more.
This years O.C. Fair is all about the food (hence the theme “Come & Get It”), so for food thrill seekers, every Friday the fair offers a $2 Taste of the Fair between noon and 4p.m. Most vendors will be offering up “tastes” of your favorite fair foods. I don’t know what exactly those foods are yet, but I’m crossing my fingers that Chicken Charlies will be offering up some good ones.
For carnival lovers, on Wednesdays and Thursdays you can purchase an unlimited ride wristband (sold until 5p.m and valid until 8p.m) for $30. Carnival riders can get also some cheap thrills on Fridays from noon – 4p.m., when the carnival offers $2 rides and games. Best of all, your kiddos (ages 5-11) can get 3 FREE carnival rides any day through the Read and Ride program by submitting book reports. The required book report form is available online. Education and fun, all rolled into one. Can’t beat that.
If you don’t want to drive and pay for parking, OCTA is offering a special OC Fair Express picking up from select locations and going directly to the fair. All riders receive a coupon for discount fair admission ($3). Fares are $2 one-way or $4 round trip, making this a great deal, especially with that discount admission. If you do drive, parking can be a rare find unless you head to the fair lots. Those can’t be beat for convenience and safety, but can get spendy. Try to find parking locally, or better yet- find a friend that lives nearby and park there. Be aware that many streets will be blocked off or have permit parking only. There is also often limited parking at Orange Coast College and at the high school down the street.
Don’t forget these other tips as well:
Use a backpack to carry your stuff. You know you’re coming home with stuff. Lots. Of. Stuff. It’s all about the merchandising, and if you save cash on food and admission, you’ll have more to buy some products – like that ShamWOW I got the year before last.
Spend time at the livestock sections and in the exhibit halls. These are free and generally very interesting. Last year, my son was able to see how to milk a cow and a goat, and we also saw a great vintage foods display.
Visit Centennial Farms. Tucked away near the Pacific Amphitheater, this year-round farm is at its peak during the fair. Meet the livestock and baby animals, indulge in some agriculture, try some great produce for a small donation, and relax among some sunflowers. The farm is also open during the rest of the year, so if you miss out during the fair, come back and bring the kids.
Pack snacks, tons of them. Granola bars pack well. Fair food is delicious, but expensive.
Only buy a few choice items that you just HAVE to have.
Split fair foods with friends- you’ll cut down both the price and calories with a food buddy.
Bring water, lots and lots of water (unopened bottles only). It’s going to be HOT.
Go early. The smaller crowds and cooler temperatures make for a much better experience.
Don’t forget the sunscreen, camera, and a smile.
For more information and a complete list of all details regarding specials, please go to the OC Fair website at http://www.ocfair.com.
Location: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Regular Admission Prices
Seniors (60+): $8
Youth (6-12): $6
Children 5 and under are FREE.
Wednesday through Friday: noon- midnight.
Saturday/Sunday: 10 a.m. to midnight.
This is not a sponsored post. We received no compensation whatsoever for this post. All thoughts and opinions remain our own.