• March 11, 2022 (11:24 am)

    Senator Min Awards Orange County Fairgrounds CEO Michele Richards 2022 Woman of the Year

    (COSTA MESA, CA) — Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) announced the 37th Senate District’s Woman of the Year honoree, Michele Richards. An Orange County resident, Richards serves as General Manager and CEO of OC Fair & Event Center where she oversees one of the largest fairgrounds in California. The OC Fairgrounds hosts over 150 events a year, including entertainment at the world class Pacific Amphitheater, and attracts approximately 4.3 million guests annually. It is an economic driver for Costa Mesa that generates $300 million for the region.

    “On behalf of the 1.1 million residents here in California’s 37th Senate District, I am honored to recognize Michele Richards as the 37th Senate District 2022 Woman of the Year,” Min said. “Michele Richards is not just the General Manager and CEO of the Orange County Fairgrounds – she is a pillar of the Orange County community.” Min continued, “Since the onset of the pandemic, Ms. Richards’ stewardship not only steered the Fair’s financial recovery but leveraged its shuttered facilities for COVID-19 response. From food distribution center to vaccine supersite, we are incredibly grateful for her leadership.”

    “I’m beyond honored to be named by Senator Min as Woman of the Year,” Richards said. “There are many exceptional women leaders in our community and it is a great privilege to be counted among them. I am surrounded by an amazing team at OC Fair & Event Center. What we do is important to the community, and to be able to help so many people during the pandemic and bring back the OC Fair has meant so much to all of us. Thank you for this recognition.”

    Ms. Richards’ full bio can be found below.

    Michele Richards was named OC Fair & Event Center’s General Manager and CEO in December, 2019 where she has led the organization through the pandemic and eventual recovery. Michele took the helm at a critical time just before the pandemic shut down all public access and revenue-generating event business at OC Fair & Event Center, including the 2020 OC Fair. Working with the employees she credits as being the heart of the team, Michele led the organization back to financial stability with the reopening of public events and return of the 2021 OC Fair, the most successful in the fair’s history. During the shutdown, Michele worked with state, county and local government agencies and nonprofits to host emergency food distribution events and COVID testing, and used the OC Fair & Event Center as a vaccination Super POD to serve the community. Prior to being appointed CEO, she served as Vice President of Business Development for more than seven years. Most notably, she was responsible for guiding initiatives which significantly increased attendance at the annual OC Fair, launching new sales programs which generated additional year-round events revenue, leading a rebranding effort and advancing the organization’s youth STEAM event, Imaginology.


  • March 2, 2022 (2:25 pm)

    Here’s what’s happening at the OC Fairgrounds in March 2022

    OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa will host several events in March, including a speaker series at Heroes Hall Museum, garden classes at Centennial Farm, and the weekly Farmers Market. Plus, OC Fair looks ahead to April for the return of Imaginology.

    Discovery Day at the Farm, March 4 & March 14

    Discovery Days at Centennial Farm are open to the public and perfect for group visits. Docents are on hand to answer questions during your self-guided tours and there will be extra activities to help students learn about agriculture.
    Hours: Friday, March 4, and Monday, March 14, 9 a.m.-noon
    Where on the fairgrounds: Centennial Farm
    How much: Free admission and parking
    More info: See complete list of dates and reserve your spot at ocfair.com/discoveryday

    Garden Class: Summer Crops, March 5

    Learn about summer vegetables and how to care for them, and plant your own vegetable to take home. A Master Gardener will lead the class. The purpose of the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program is to extend research-based, scientifically accurate information to the public about home horticulture and pest management.
    Hours: Saturday, March 5, 10 a.m.-noon
    Where on the fairgrounds: Silo Building at Centennial Farm
    How much: $6 includes ingredients and handouts.
    More info: Reserve your spot at ocfair.com/gardenclasses

    Speaker Series: 54th Coast Artillery Regiment, March 5

    During World War II, an all-Black Coast Artillery Regiment helped protect California’s Central Coast, but their story has been largely forgotten. Military historian Erik Brun talks about the search for more information about this important part of California history. This speaker series is in conjunction with the museum’s newest exhibit, Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII.
    Hours: Saturday, March 5, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: Heroes Hall Museum
    How much: Free admission and parking.
    More info: Registration is required and limited; go to ocfair.com/heroeshall/rsvp

    Bridal & Wedding Expo, March 6

    Featuring a selection of wedding professionals ready to help brides find the perfect gown, reception venue, invitations, photographer, music, menu, honeymoon destination and more.
    Hours: Sunday, March 6, 12:30-5 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: Costa Mesa Building
    How much: Free admission with advance registration. Parking is $10.
    More info: Visit cabridalshows-of.com/free-pass

    The Original O.C. Swap Meet, March 12 & March 26

    This event was created to provide a space for local small businesses and the community to come together in an outdoor setting. The swap meet showcases products and goods for all to buy and enjoy.
    Hours: Saturdays, March 12 & 26, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: Lot D
    How much: Free admission. Parking is $10.
    More info: Check instagram.com/ogocswapmeet, email ogswapmeet@gmail.com or call (949) 302-0355

    OC Fair Board of Directors meeting, March 24

    OC Fair’s Board of Directors typically meets monthly via Zoom and in person at OC Fair & Event Center. The agenda and location for this meeting will be available later in the month at ocfair.com/public-information/public-meetings. The public is invited to watch or participate in Board meetings via Zoom or in person. The meetings, which begin at 9:30 a.m., will also be recorded and posted on our website afterward.

    Canning Workshop, March 26

    Make low-calorie strawberry jam in the make it, take it workshop. This class will bring you up to date on the latest process recommendations, teach you how to process your food safely and tell you why you are doing it that way. You will learn what equipment is needed and proper storage methods. A simple recipe will be taught and prepared in class for participants to take home.
    Hours: Saturday, March 26, 10 a.m.-noon
    Where on the fairgrounds: Silo Building at Centennial Farm
    How much: $25 fee includes ingredients and handouts. Bring two half-pint Ball or Kerr canning jars with lids and rings, along with an apron.
    More info: Reserve your spot at ocfair.com/gardenclasses


    Ongoing events at OC Fair & Event Center

    Free COVID testing – Open Monday-Friday

    Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: Lot E (corner of Fairview and Arlington; enter at Gate 4)
    More info: Make an appointment online. PCR test results take 24-48 hours.

    Farmers Market – Every Thursday

    Shop local at this OC Farm Bureau-certified farmers market featuring produce, fresh flowers, fish, hummus, honey, hot sauce and more. Some vendors also sell hot food for lunch such as tamales and tacos/burritos.
    Hours: Thursdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: Outdoors in Lot D
    How much: Free admission and parking
    More info: Visit ocfarmbureau.org

    Heroes Hall Museum – Open Wednesday-Sunday

    Visit our museum to view the latest exhibits and learn about local veterans. 
    Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: Heroes Hall is next to Centennial Farm
    How much: Free admission and parking
    More info: Visit ocfair.com/heroeshall

    Centennial Farm – Open daily

    Check out our three-acre working farm, which features seasonal crops, farm animals and knowledgeable staff.
    Hours: Monday-Friday, 1-4 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: Centennial Farm is on the south side of our property
    How much: Free admission and parking
    More info: Visit ocfair.com/centennialfarm


    Coming up in April

    OC Fair’s Imaginology, April 9-10

    Imaginology is where curious kids and families go to discover and learn all about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) with a variety of exhibits. Limited food options will also be available for purchase. Imaginology was canceled in 2020 but held virtually in 2021. The OC Fair-produced event debuted in 1989 as Youth Expo and was renamed Imaginology in 2014, focusing on STEAM and offering a weekend of free family activities.
    Hours: Saturday & Sunday, April 9-10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
    How much: Free admission. Parking is $10.
    More info: Visit ocfair.com/imaginology

    Also in April:

    Orange County Wine Fest, April 2-3
    Flying Miz Daisy Outdoor Vintage Market, April 2
    Fight Club OC, April 14
    The Original O.C. Swap Meet, April 23-24
    The SDCCU OC Marathon Running Festival, April 29-May 1

    Go to ocfair.com/events for more info about events happening in April and beyond.


  • February 17, 2022 (1:01 pm)

    Now accepting entries for the 2022 OC Fair Competitions!

    The OC Fair has begun accepting entries for the annual competitions, which are a long-standing tradition at the summer event – especially for the local fans.

    For the 2022 OC Fair, guests are invited to show off their best talents by participating in more than 20 different competitions.

    Competitions this year include:

    Visual Arts

    • Fine Arts
    • Photography
    • Woodworking

    Hand Crafts & Hobbies

    • Collections
    • Hand Crafts
    • Fiber Arts
    • Jewelry

    Garden & Floral

    • Cut Flowers
    • Fruits & Vegetables
    • Container Plants
    • Floral Arrangements

    Table Settings
     

    Culinary

    • Bars & Brownies
    • Cookies
    • Sugar Arts & Confections
    • Yeast & Quick Breads
    • Honey
    • Preserved Food & Liqueur

    Wine

    • Home Wine
    • Commercial Wine

    Livestock

    • Market Livestock Shows
    • Breeding Livestock Shows

    There are also designated divisions and separate competitions for youth.

    Deadlines for entries vary based on category. Competition Guides are available at ocfair.com/competitions for each competition. The guides detail rules, regulations, important dates and more. Some competitions are free to enter.

    LAST YEAR
    In 2021, the OC Fair condensed the number of competitions but still received more than 3,000 entries and issued about 1,400 awards. Results for the 2021 OC Fair Competitions are available at ocfair.com/oc-fair/competitions-contests/results/, including a city-by-city breakdown of how each O.C. resident fared.

    TABLE SETTINGS DOCUMENTARY
    The OC Fair was recently featured in a documentary about the highly competitive annual Table Settings Competition. SET! was filmed during the 2019 OC Fair and released in 2021 on Discovery+. The film follows the process of several participants in the Table Settings Competition, from registration and brainstorming to finding out whether or not they placed well. Find out more at setdocumentary.com.

    YOUTH COMPETITIONS AT IMAGINOLOGY
    Imaginology, OC Fair’s annual family event focused on education, is also accepting entries for two youth competitions: Mural Project and Cardboard Engineering. The deadline for the Imaginology competitions are March 30; Imaginology takes place April 9-10. For more information, visit ocfair.com/imaginology

    ABOUT THE 2022 OC FAIR
    “Feel the Sunshine” will be the theme of this year’s OC Fair, which take place July 15-Aug. 14. Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Advance ticket purchase is required, and tickets are on sale now.


  • February 16, 2022 (3:32 pm)

    OC Fair receives accolades in CDFA report for agriculture exhibit

    OC Fair was featured as a “Grant Spotlight” in the 2021 California Department of Food & Agriculture report for its new exhibit, California Fresh.

    The report mentions the backstory of the Specialty Crop Block Grand Program, which was originally granted to Cal Expo in 2020. The State Fair could not host their event in 2021, so Cal Expo granted a “subaward” to its Orange County counterpart – that’s us! 

    OC Fair’s Exhibits & Education team developed the exhibit and made it adaptable for display at Cal Expo as well. During the 2021 OC Fair, the exhibit was on display in the OC Promenade.

    The CDFA report says, “A tip of the hat to all involved, with CDFA’s thanks for making sure this project ended up where the public could enjoy it, even with all the hurdles the past few years have thrown in everyone’s way.”

    See the full 2021 CDFA report


  • February 15, 2022 (12:05 pm)

    Heroes Hall Museum celebrates Orange County’s military history with two important milestones

    Today Heroes Hall Museum & Education Center celebrates its 5th birthday as well as the 80th anniversary of the Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB), which operated in Costa Mesa during World War II.

    Since opening its doors on Feb. 15, 2017, Heroes Hall Museum has been committed to honoring our nation’s military veterans and giving voice to their remarkable stories. Through thought-provoking exhibits such as Bravemind – about the impacts of post-traumatic stress on service members – to Voices: Veterans Storytelling Project and our Veterans Day celebrations, Heroes Hall has educated and inspired thousands of visitors.

    Heroes Hall is also home to the permanent exhibit The SAAAB Story, which depicts the history of the Santa Ana Army Air Base through artifacts, stories, and photographs. SAAAB was a preflight training center for pilots, navigators and bombardiers during the World War II. Many of the artifacts on display were donated by local families whose relatives served at the base.

    “In our exhibit we strive to keep the stories of the SAAAB airmen alive, many of whom went on to fight with honor in the European, Pacific, and China-Burma-India theaters of operation,” said Carol Singleton, Supervisor of Heroes Hall Museum. “Tragically, many of them died or became prisoners of war. Others returned home injured both physically and psychologically.”

    The base, which opened on Feb. 15, 1942, stretched over 1,300 acres and contained more than 800 buildings. The creation of the base forever changed the character of the region from a quiet agricultural community to a busting urban center. The aerospace industry also flourished in the area during World War II.

    After the war, the land that occupied the base was sold off to various entities including Orange Coast College, the city of Costa Mesa, and the Orange County Fairgrounds. Many of the barracks buildings were sold to service members returning from the war. The structures were dismantled and rebuilt as homes for veterans.

    The building that houses Heroes Hall Museum is one of the last remaining barracks from SAAAB. It was rescued from demolition by the Fair Board of Directors and local veterans organizations who recognized the value in creating a museum dedicated to the stories of our military heroes. After being moved from one area of the fairgrounds to its current location between Centennial Farm and the Pacific Amphitheater, it underwent a complete renovation prior to opening its doors in 2017.

    In 2019, Heroes Hall was the recipient of an A-4M Skyhawk, a Vietnam-era attack aircraft that was previously on display in downtown Santa Ana. The city was expanding its Civic Center and needed to find a new home for the jet, and Heroes Hall was happy to comply. Today the aircraft, which is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, sits on a large pedestal near Heroes Hall Medal of Honor Courtyard and Walk of Honor. The courtyard and walking path include plaques that pay tribute to dozens of Orange County military heroes, some who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

    “Heroes Hall Museum receives financial support from Heroes Hall Veterans Foundation and AMVETS, to whom we are very grateful. They provide funding for everything from bus scholarships for school groups to artifacts for our permanent collection,” said Singleton.

    To learn more about Heroes Hall Museum, upcoming exhibits and educational resources, visit ocfair.com/heroes-hall/.


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