Can you believe it’s already time for the Orange County Fair 2011? Yep! Yep! The OC Fair has arrived in Costa Mesa, CA! Friday, July 15th – Sunday, August 14th (open Wednesday thru Sunday), you can ride the rides, watch the action sports & listen to the top notch concerts at the Pacific Amphitheatre. But don’t forget my favorite part – the food. “No matter how it’s served – battered, deep-fried, jumbo-sized, barbecued, on a stick, in a corn husk or just tasty – Fair food has always been a favorite unofficial theme of the OC Fair & this year it’s the  main theme with ‘LET’S EAT!’”

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Orange County Fair 2011

OC Fair Concerts, Action Sports Shows (featuring skateboarding, Kart racing, BMX, motorsports, a demolition derby & extreme bull riding), tons of FREE events & the typical Carnival stuff: rides, games & food (I’m looking forward to the roasted corn, deep-fried Snickers bar, the Mexican funnel cake & just about everything else featured in THIS fair food guide). That’s what the fair is all about.

For the 23 days of the Orange County Fair 2011 (July 15-August 14), Fairgoers can enjoy a gastronomical adventure and all that goes with it from where food comes from to how to prepare it to simply enjoying it on a budget. Here is a rundown of the special theme-related features for the “LET’S EAT!” theme of the 2011 OC Fair:

• Let’s Eat for $2 – Taste of Fair Food: Every Friday from Noon-4 p.m., Fairgoers can enjoy the best and most variety of Fair food for the best price – only $2 per sample. Samples available for purchase include funnel cake, deep-fried Oreos, BBQ tri-tip, lemonade, cinnamon roll, corn dog, falafel, gelato, sushi, bratwurst and more.

• Chef Series: Every Thursday in The Hangar, Fairgoers can enjoy free-with-Fair-admission performances from celebrity chefs: Food Network’s Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman (July 21, 1:30 p.m.); Bravo’s Top Chef season-five finalist Carla Hall (July 28, 5 p.m.); Bravo’s Top Chef season-six winner Michael Voltaggio (August 4, 1:30 p.m.); and Las Vegas-based rm Seafood’s Rick Moonen (August 11, 1:30 p.m.) Sponsored by the OC Restaurant Association.

• Food Truck Fare: Find gourmet fare within the Fair as the popular Food Truck Fare continues inside Fair gates offering food truck cuisine every Thursday from Noon-10 p.m. Featured food trucks include The OC Food Truck, The Burnt Truck, Baconmania, Piaggio On Wheels, Dos Chinos and more. Access is free with Fair admission and prices vary per truck.

 New Fair Food: Each year, Fair-favorite Chicken Charlie likes to challenge the idea of Fair food and this year is no different as deep-fried Kool-Aid, deep-fried brownies, deep-fried Girl Scout cookies and deep-fried BBQ ribs are added to his already robust menu of deep-fried frogs legs, deep-fried Oreos and Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich. Also new for Fairgoers this year is the chocolate-covered corn dog, beer-battered bacon from the Deep-Fried Butter stand and unique icy sweet treats from the new Legendairy Gelato.

• Contests and Competitions: From eating food to making food, Fairgoers have multiple opportunities to compete with food at the Fair. Daily free eating contests are held in the Fun Zone Tent at 6:30 p.m. (Registration is 30 minutes before each contest). Each Saturday, Fairgoers have the chance to compete in the Culinary Arts Special Contests, which are judged live at theFair for the best lunch bags, spicy hot wings, pies, cupcakes and cuisine on a stick (Online entry registration is the Wednesday before each contest. Visit ocfair.com/competitions for information and to register.) For children, the Fun Zone Tent offers a variety of free daily contests that encourages them to get creative with their food.

• Centennial Farm: Learn and see where food comes from on this year-round, four-acre demonstration farm featuring educational exhibits, agricultural organizations, growing crops, livestock and the Fruit & Vegetable competitive entries with the biggest lemons, most unusually shaped vegetables and best home-grown pumpkins Orange County has to offer.

OC Fair Tickets

Tickets cost $11 for Adults, Seniors (60+) $8 & Children (ages 6 – 12) $6. You can buy tickets at the fair, or online HERE (to avoid the service charge be sure to choose the ‘TicketFast’ print-at-home option).

Coupons for OC Fair

For more information about this year’s OC Fair go HERE. But before you plan your adventure, be sure to check out some of these great deals…

* Promotions start opening day (Friday, July 15) with FREE entry and parking during the Opening Hour Noon-1 p.m. Parking lots open one hour before gates to accommodate Fairgoers.

* We Care Wednesday is another great way to save money while giving back. Fairgoers can receive one FREE entry ticket and a carnival ride by donating the following items on specific Wednesdays:

  • Wednesday, July 20, Noon-4 p.m. – Food Drive: Donation of five non-perishable food items. Benefits Second Harvest and OC Food Bank.
  • Wednesday, July 27, Noon-4 p.m. – Children’s Book Drive: Donation of one new or three gently-used children’s books. Benefits Los Angeles Times Reading by 9.
  • Wednesday, August 3, Noon-4 p.m. – Clothing Drive: Donation of five new or gently-used clothing items. Benefits Goodwill of Orange County.
  • Wednesday, August 10, Noon-4 p.m. – Back to School Supply Drive: Donation of one new school supply item valued at $3 or more (suggested items are markers, notebooks, backpacks and calculators.) Benefits Share Our Selves.

* Guests 12 and younger get in FREE on Kid’s Day all day, EVERY Thursday.

* Guests 60 and older can enjoy a $2 discount on regular senior admission and FREE Ferris wheel and merry-go-round rides all day, every Friday for Senior’s Day.

* Active-duty military members with ID can enjoy FREE admission EVERY day, all day through the Heroes Get in Free promotion.

* A new promotion is the Rise & Shine Special, where Fairgoers can get $2 general admission price EVERY Saturday and Sunday from 10-11 a.m.

* Fair food is famous and guests can enjoy samples for only $2 during the Let’s Eat for $2 – Taste of Fair Foods EVERY Friday from Noon-4 p.m.

* Returning this year is the OC Fair Flyer Express, where Friday-Sunday OCTA riders can shuttle directly to the Fair from five different OCTA transit locations and receive a coupon for $2 general Fair admission for that day. (Service hours are Friday 3 p.m. to Midnight and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m. to Midnight).

* Daily carnival offerings include: the Carnival Fun Pass - sold daily in $5, $20, $50 and $100 packages valid for rides and games; Fast Pass – get to the front of the line for $20 (valid day of purchase only); and the Read & Ride Program – children (ages 5-11) who read at least two books and submit a completed OC Fair Read & Ride Book Report Form (available online at ocfair.com) will receive three FREE carnival rides. Completed forms can be submitted to the Centennial Farm information booth during regular Fair hours.

* Other carnival promotions include the $25 Unlimited Ride Wristband and $2 Games every Wednesday and Thursday, while every Friday offers $2 Rides and $2 Games. Additionally, concertgoers in the Pacific Amphitheatre can use their concert ticket stub to enjoy a FREE ride on La Grande Wheel after the show (valid night of concert only).http://www.ocfair.com/2011/buytickets/super_pass.asp*

* Want to go to the Fair every day, or at least several times? Purchase the Super Pass, it’s basically a season ticket to the fair. After July 15th the cost for adults is $30, for Seniors (60+) it is $25 & for Children (6-12) it is $20. Besides dailyFair access, the Super Pass gives you all kinds of discounts & other benefits (such as the option to purchase 2 for 1 Terrace seats to select Pacific Amphitheatre Concerts, express lane for all entry gates & more). You can purchase the Super Pass at the OC Fair admission gates.

OC Fair Concerts

The 2011 Los Angeles Times Summer Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair will feature a diverse and entertaining lineup with something for everyone.  Beginning with the first-of-its-kind pre-Fair concert with “Weird Al” Yankovic’s ALPOCALYPSE Tour and including everything from alternative and country favorites to pop superstar Selena Gomez and legendary comedian Bill Cosby, the Pacific Amphitheatre will rock all summer long. The Fair runs from July 15 – August 14 and concert tickets are available at fan-friendly prices starting at $12.50 (all tickets include free Fair admission). Additionally, Super Pass holders may purchase terrace seats for certain concerts at a 2-for-1 price – starting at just $6.25 per ticket. For more information, please visit ocfair.com.

This year’s lineup includes:

• “Weird Al” Yankovic – The Alpocalypse Tour: Saturday, July 9, 8 p.m. (Pre-Fair)
“Weird Al “ Yankovic is best known for his musical parodies that includes such hits as, “Eat It,” “Amish Paradise,” and “White & Nerdy.” This time around, Weird Al is taking to the stage for the Alpocalypse Tour, supporting his upcoming album. Tickets start at $12.50.

 Bob Dylan and His Band: Friday, July 15, 8 p.m.
Bob Dylan’s influence on popular music is incalculable. Dylan will bring both classics of rock & roll and powerful folk music to his Pacific Amphitheatre concert. Tickets start at $29.50.

 Neon Trees: Saturday, July 16, 8 p.m.
Like their name, Neon Trees are a combination of slick pop hooks and sturdy organic rock, both melodic and hard-hitting, their anthems of adolescent angst, longing, love lost and found, delivered with the kind of heart-on-the-sleeve passion that only comes from hard work and commitment. Tickets start at $12.50.

• The Pink Floyd Experience: Sunday, July 17, 8:15 p.m.
The Pink Floyd Experience is an intimate tribute show with the legendary combination of music, sound, lights and sensual attack of classic Pink Floyd music in a theatre atmosphere.  Tickets start at $12.50.

 Chris Isaak: Wednesday, July 20, 8 p.m.
Like some of Chris Isaak’s best-known past compositions, such as his smash hit “Wicked Game,” the songs on his newest album, Mr. Lucky, have a deeply felt sense of the consequences of good love gone bad and bad love gone good.  Tickets start at $19.50.

 Steve Miller Band: Thursday, July 21, 8 p.m.
One of music’s most interesting and prolific artists, Steve Miller has been making records of nearly every genre since 1968. Tickets start at $38.50.

• Big Time Rush: Friday, July 22, 7:30 p.m.
After an incredibly successful first season on their hit Nickelodeon show of the same name, Big time Rush is finally ready to unveil their debut album entitled BTR. Tickets start at $12.50.

• The Fab Four / Jumping Jack Flash -The Greatest Concert That Never Was: Saturday, July 23, 8 p.m.
The Greatest Concert That Never Was features internationally known tribute bands The Fab Four and Jumping Jack Flash. Hear brilliant performances of the Beatles’ and the Rolling Stones’ greatest hits. Tickets start at $12.50.

• Selena Gomez & The Scene: Sunday, July 24, 8 p.m.
Selena Gomez is an American actress and singer, best known for portraying Alex Russo in the Emmy award-winning Disney channel television series “Wizards of Waverly Place”. Tickets start at $27.50.

• Paul Rodgers: Wednesday, July 27, 8:15 p.m.
Paul Rodgers continues to record and tour internationally. He has written, recorded, produced and released 30 albums since 1968; and sold over 90 million records. Tickets start at $19.50.

• Chicago: Thursday, July 28, 8 p.m.
Chicago is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, IL.  Chicago is one of the longest running and most successful pop/rock and roll groups. Tickets start at $29.50.

• Blake Shelton: Friday, July 29, 8:15 p.m.
Blake Shelton has visited the No. 1 spot on the country singles chart no fewer than six times, with three of those coming in the last three years as his career has reached cruising altitude. Tickets start at $26.50.

• Tiger Army with special guest The Blasters: Saturday, July 30, 7:15 p.m.
Tiger Army is credited with bringing “psychobilly” style to the attention of the U.S. underground. It also transcends genre with its intoxicating mix of vintage punk, rock ‘n’ roll and bittersweet melody. Tickets start at $19.50.

• Melissa Etheridge: Sunday, July 31, 8:15 p.m.
Melissa Etheridge has received 15 Grammy Award nominations winning two; one Academy Award; and has sold 27 million albums worldwide and almost 14 million in the U.S. alone. Tickets start at $17.50.

• Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo: Wednesday, August 3, 8:15 p.m.
Pat Benatar, a four-time Grammy winner, and husband/guitarist Neil Giraldo plan a set filled with greatest hits and fan favorites. Tickets start at $19.50.

• Weezer: Thursday, August 4, 8:15 p.m.
As one of the most popular groups to emerge in the post-grunge alternative rock aftermath, Weezer has received equal amounts of criticism and praise for their hook-heavy guitar pop. Tickets start at $29.50.

• Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of the Doors with Vocalist Dave Brock: Friday, August 5, 8:15 p.m.
Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors celebrate the 40th anniversary of the classic Doors album LA Woman and will feature Vocalist Dave Brock of the tribute band Wild Child. Tickets start at $15.

 Bill Cosby: Saturday, August 6, 8:15 p.m.
One of America’s most beloved comedians of all time, Bill Cosby has captivated generations of fans with his comedy routines, iconic albums and best-selling books such as “Fatherhood”. Tickets start at $19.50.

• Huey Lewis & The News: Sunday, August 7, 8:15 p.m.
With their simple, straightforward rock ‘n’ roll, San Francisco-based, Huey Lewis & The News became one of America’s most popular pop/rock bands of the mid-’80s. Tickets start at $19.50.

 Montgomery Gentry: Wednesday, August 10, 8:15 p.m.
Seldom have entertainers been identified as closely as Montgomery Gentry with their fans, and seldom has the respect and affection run so deep in both directions. Tickets start at $18.50.

• Kansas / Blue Oyster Cult: Thursday, August 11, 7:30 p.m.
With their unique sound and style combining rock music with complex rhythms, but mainly the violin, Kansas is loved all over the world. Blue Oyster Cult is well-known for songs including “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and “Burnin’ for You”. They have sold more than 24 million albums worldwide, including 7 million in the U.S. Tickets start at $15.

• Three Dog Night / America: Friday, August 12, 7:30 p.m.
Legendary music icons, Three Dog Night, celebrate their fourth decade with songs like “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”, “Joy to the World” and “Black and White”. America is an American folk rock band with hits throughout the 1970s including “A Horse with No Name” and “Sister Golden Hair” Tickets start at $19.50.

• Steel Pulse / The Wailers: Saturday, August 13, 7:30 p.m.
Steel Pulse was formed in 1975 in Birmingham, England, and their material is inspired by The Wailers (also playing), Burning Spear and several other prominent Jamaican artists. As the greatest living exponents of Jamaica’s reggae tradition, The Wailers have completed innumerable other tours, playing to an estimated 24 million people across the globe. Tickets start at $19.50.

• B.B. King / Walter Trout: Sunday, August 14, 8 p.m.
B.B. King’s reign as King of Blues has been as long as that of any monarch on earth.  For more than half a century, Riley B. King – better known as B.B. King – has defined the blues for a worldwide audience. Tickets start at $19.50.

OC Fair Schedule

For 23 days of the Orange County Fair 2011 are filled with fun & exciting events. OC Fair Concerts, Action Sports, Carnival Rides, Exhibits, Food Events, Shopping & More. For the daily list of what to do & where to go, check out the OC Fair Schedule.

What: The Orange County Fair, Let’s Eat

When: July 15 – August 14, 2011 (closed Mondays & Tuesdays)

Where: Orange County Fairgrounds & Event Center, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, CA 92626

xoxo, K
image via Orange County Fair 2011