Fun Facts about the OC Fair

Here are a few fun facts about Orange County’s favorite Fair! 

  • The very first Orange County Fair was held in 1890 in Santa Ana, California.
  • During the OC Fair, you might be familiar with a building called the Carnival of Products. That was the Fair’s name from 1907 to 1910! 
  • The OC Fair was here before Costa Mesa. The OC Fair has resided on its current site since 1949; the City of Costa Mesa was incorporated four years later. 
  • Pacific Amphitheatre opened in 1983. Some of its first concerts included The Beach Boys, Oingo Boingo, and Barry Manilow.
  • The OC Fair held its first Cattle Drive in 1994. It traveled down Fairview Road.
  • President Reagan visited the OC Fair in the ’80s. President Obama visited in 2009. President Trump held a campaign rally at Pacific Amphitheatre in 2016.
  • Heroes Hall, the veterans museum and education center located on the fairgrounds, is actually an old barracks building from the Santa Ana Army Air Base. 
  • The Santa Ana Army Air Base was used for training in the 1940s; the fairgrounds sits within its former footprint. 
  • OC Fair’s Foodies have been around since 2013! Keep an eye out for a new character joining the Foodie family in 2020.
  • The OC Fair has welcomed more than a million guests every summer since 2005, when it first hit its million-person mark. It was only 21 days then; it’s 23 days now! 
  • Al’s Brain: A 3-D Journey Through the Human Brain” is a 10-minute 3D short film starring Weird Al Yankovic that was first shown at the OC Fair in 2009. It cost $2.5 million to make, and it features celebrity guest stars, including Paul McCartney. 
  • Around 2017, it became popular to put Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on everything, and in 2019, the folks behind the food at the Fair reportedly used an entire truckload of the crunchy treats. 
  • La Grande Wheel XL – the big ferris wheel you can see from the 55 freeway – debuted in 2017 as the largest traveling exhibition wheel in the northern hemisphere. This same wheel visits lots of other fairs and festivals around the country, including the popular Coachella Music and Arts Festival.
  • In 2019, the OC Fair hosted its very first wedding DURING Fair hours! Leslie Leong and Michael Nguyen were married on Aug. 10 in front of the Millennium Barn.
  • Due to a global pandemic, the in-person 2020 OC Fair was canceled for the first time since WWII and a Virtual OC Fair was held online.
  • The OC Fair had limited daily capacity for the first time in 2021 and advance ticket purchase was required. Of the 23-day run of the Fair, 16 days were sold out.
  • A new OC Fair Foodie costumed character was introduced in 2021 and Strawberry Jan made her debut.