Category Archives: Heroes Hall

  • November 11, 2021 (3:13 pm)

    Santa Ana Army Air Base exhibit reopening

    Heroes Hall Museum has reopened its permanent exhibit, The SAAAB Story, which chronicles the history of the Santa Ana Army Air Base. The air base’s location once included the land on which the OC Fairgrounds now sits, and Heroes Hall’s building is a renovated barracks from the base.

    The exhibit first debuted when Heroes Hall opened in 2017 but has been updated with several new artifacts and memorabilia.

    The SAAAB Story is much more immersive now,” said Carol Singleton, Heroes Hall Supervisor. “It will help people better understand what the cadets went through while they were training here. Everything about the exhibit is connected to the Santa Ana Army Air Base.”

    The Costa Mesa Historical Society provided a lot of the artifacts, including original posters, uniforms, cadet personal items, trophies and telegrams. Previously the exhibit featured photo reproductions but now includes original photos on display.

    Other new sections include information about:

    • Women, Latinos and LGBTQ service members in the military during World War II
    • Letters from 8th graders who were sent to internment camps to their white classmates in Westminster
    • German POWs who worked on the base picking oranges
    • Tuskegee Army Air Field, which is where the Black airmen who would have trained at SAAAB were placed were it not for segregation
    • Victory gardens, rationing and other campaigns led on the home front

    “My favorite part is the personal stories of the cadets that graduated here,” Singleton said. “There are eight different cadet stories, each one extraordinary, and all eight went on to the war in either the South Pacific or the European theatre.”

    The SAAAB Story is a permanent exhibit at Heroes Hall. Heroes Hall is open year-round, Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The first-floor exhibit, Through Their Eyes: Artwork by Active Military and Veterans, will be on display until Jan. 20, 2022.

  • October 13, 2021 (10:30 am)

    Heroes Hall exhibit Through Their Eyes features opens Oct. 13 with work by local military artists

    A new exhibit at Heroes Hall opens today, Oct. 13, showcasing the artwork of 24 local veterans and active U.S. service members.

    Through Their Eyes: Artwork by Active Military and Veterans will be the featured exhibit at the museum now through January 20, 2022.

    New museum hours: Heroes Hall is now open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

    Heroes Hall Museum is dedicated to honoring Orange County’s service members and providing a place where they can tell their stories. For this new exhibit, military service members have expressed their individual experiences through a variety of mediums including sculpture, photography, painting, carving and woodworking.

    “It has been such a pleasure meeting the artists and hearing the stories behind their artwork,” said Carol Singleton, Heroes Hall Museum Supervisor. “Several of the veterans in this show turned to art as a means to heal both emotional and physical wounds. We are privileged and honored to bring this extraordinary exhibit to the community.”

    Through Their Eyes was underwritten by the Heroes Hall Veterans Foundation. The judges were Dave Barton, Fatemeh Burnes and Denton Knapp.


    Winning pieces are pictured below, and details about each of the artists are available on the Heroes Hall section of

    First Place: David Vargo for “Unlikely Path” (pictured above)

    Vargo is an art professor at Laguna College of Art and Design, and has painted illustrations for companies like Blizzard Entertainment, Arch Enemy Comics, Lucasfilm and Wizards of the Coast.

    “My love of the mysterious combined with my passion for the figure has led to a long-term art affair with imaginative realism,” Vargo said.

    Second Place: Giovanni Berdejo for “Hope”

    Berdejo is a photographer and author, and has taught photography workshops for student veterans at Chapman University.

    Third Place: Ed Bowen for “Entrenchment”

    Bowen is a Vietnam War veteran whose art is part of the Army’s war art collection and is displayed in various government facilities including the Pentagon and the Smithsonian.

    Artists in juried show:

    Kurt Bayless, U.S. Navy, Huntington Beach
    Giovanni Berdejo, U.S. Army, Fountain Valley
    Ed Bowen, U.S. Army, Corona Del Mar
    George Davis, U.S. Marine Corps, Rancho Santa Margarita
    Hanh Dinh, U.S. Marine Corps, Garden Grove
    Reginald Green, U.S. Navy, San Diego
    Linda Hicks, U.S. Air Force, Westminster
    Charlie Hunt, U.S. Army, Huntington Beach
    Sean Lenahan, U.S. Navy, Costa Mesa
    Phyllis Miller, U.S. Navy, Santa Monica
    Kimberly Millett, U.S. Army, Newport Beach
    Darrow Minor, U.S. Navy, Long Beach
    Cody Reed, U.S. Navy, Long Beach
    Arthur Rivera, U.S. Navy, Anaheim
    Abraham Romero, U.S. Army, San Diego
    Casey Rydjeski, U.S. Army, Fountain Valley
    Sandra Scott, U.S. Air Force, Yucaipa
    Mario Solorzano, U.S. Army, Pomona
    Bill Stewart, U.S. Air Force, Newport Beach
    Gary Tegel, U.S. Navy, Costa Mesa
    Paul Todd, U.S. Army, Orange
    David Vargo, U.S. Marine Corps, Anaheim
    George Wallims, U.S. Marine Corps, Huntington Beach

    Special guest artist
    Joe Pisano, U.S. Navy, San Diego

    Read more about each artist at

  • September 30, 2021 (10:09 am)

    Heroes Hall to close Oct. 1-12 in preparation for new exhibit

    Heroes Hall will be closed from Oct. 1 through 12 as the team installs a new exhibit. 

    Through Their Eyes: Artwork by Active Military and Veterans is a juried show featuring artwork from 23 U.S. military veterans from the Southern California region. The artists have expressed themselves through a variety of mediums including sculpture, photography, painting, carving and woodworking. Their subject matter is as unique as they are and ranges from combat scenes to flowers and surreal portraits. But there is one thing they all have in common: they have all served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

    The exhibit will run from Oct. 13, 2021, through Jan. 20, 2022.

    View a list of artists and get more info about the exhibit

    Heroes Hall at the OC Fairgrounds
    Open Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5  p.m.

  • March 25, 2021 (11:08 am)

    Dates announced for 2021 OC Fair!

    Today the OC Fair announced dates for the much-anticipated annual event – July 16- Aug. 15. The theme is “Time for Fun,” celebrating the joy of the return of Southern California’s favorite summer festival.

    “We are grateful to plan for an exciting, and safe, OC Fair this year,” said OC Fair Board Chair Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia. “This milestone will allow the community to come together to celebrate the future and generate much-needed opportunities for economic development and growth in Orange County. The Board and staff have done a fantastic job of responsibly managing our finances and preparing to meet safe reopening guidelines to not just make it through the pandemic, but to emerge resilient and ready for 2021 and beyond.”

    OC Fair officials have been working closely with public health agencies to develop protocols to keep fairgoers safe while bringing back carnival rides, fair food, entertainment, competitions, animals and more to fair fans. The plans for the 2021 OC Fair are based on health agency projections for the summer, but could change if warranted by public health conditions.

    Advance ticket sales will be required and limited capacity will give fairgoers more elbow room. The number of concessions, rides and shopping vendors will be reduced and spaced out to provide more distance between each. Admission tickets will go on sale May 1 on

    “We have worked through many different scenarios for the 2021 OC Fair and we are so excited to move forward with this plan because it means that we really can bring back the fun, and that’s why I love this year’s theme,” said Michele Richards, OC Fair & Event Center CEO. “We want everyone to continue to follow health guidelines and get vaccinated so we can finally celebrate summer together again.”

    The Fair Board voted to keep ticket prices at the 2019 OC Fair rates, $12 general admission and $7 for children and seniors on weekdays (Wednesday, Thursday), and $14 general admission and $7 for children and seniors on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). The current plan is for the fair to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, as it traditionally has been. There is a change to move Friday into weekend pricing and OC Fair will absorb the online ticket sale fees.

    Announcements regarding concerts in Pacific Amphitheatre and The Hangar will be coming soon.


  • November 16, 2020 (3:33 pm)

    Heroes Hall interior temporarily closes to comply with county’s COVID-19 response

    Heroes Hall veterans museum at OC Fair & Event Center will be temporarily closed starting Nov. 17 to comply with Orange County’s COVID-19 response.
    Outdoors, Heroes Hall’s Medal of Honor Courtyard and Orange County Walk of Honor remain open so visitors can learn about local veterans who served their country and see the Skyhawk aircraft what was installed outside the museum last year.
    The Heroes Hall Virtual Museum is also available for visitors to read the stories and see photos and memorabilia of Southern California veterans anytime online.
    Nearby Centennial Farm, the fairgrounds’ year-round working farm, is open by reservation for self-guided tours. Centennial Farm hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free admission and parking (donations welcome); masks and reservations are required and COVID-19 safety protocols are in place. To reserve a time to visit, go to
    The new Heroes Hall exhibit, Private Charles J. Miller: WWII Paintings from the South Pacific, will reopen when the Orange County Health Care Agency deems it is safe for Heroes Hall to welcome back indoor guests.
    Featured is the visual diary of Miller, who chronicled his military service in the South Pacific theater during WWII. He was a self-taught artist who had been drawing throughout his lifetime, teaching himself perspective, anatomy and drawing and painting techniques.
    For more information, visit
  • November 9, 2020 (10:26 am)

    Heroes Hall’s Carol Singleton chosen as a Veteran of the Year

    On November 11, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris will be honoring six veterans as 2020 Veterans of the Year.

    Petrie-Norris said, “The opportunity to celebrate real American heroes reminds us that we have much more in common than we do at odds. The ties that bind us together are so much stronger than the forces that seek to tear us apart.” 

    The veterans were nominated by fellow community members from the Assemblywoman’s district and recognized for their service in the armed forces and in our communities. Their service records span from World War II to current active duty, and are reflective of the diversity and wealth of experience in our district.

    Join in to watch a virtual ceremony on Veterans Day on Facebook live at 11 a.m. 

    2020 Veterans of the Year

    Carol Singleton, Costa Mesa
    US Army

    David Hayward, Huntington Beach
    US Air Force

    Mohamed Omar Diab, Irvine
    US Marine Corps

    Anthony Michael Page, Laguna Beach
    US Army

    Gary Bain, Laguna Woods
    US Air Force

    Nancy Ise, Newport Beach
    US Navy


  • October 28, 2020 (11:21 am)

    Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall veterans museum ready to reopen on Nov. 3

    Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall veterans museum at OC Fair & Event Center are set to reopen to the public on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Visitors must make a reservation in advance.

    Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall will both be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (last reservation accepted at 2 p.m.; group will be allowed to stay until 3 p.m.). Parking is free and available through Gate 1 off of Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. Admission to both venues is free and masks are required.

    “We are very excited to welcome our guests back to Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall,” said Michele Richards, OC Fair & Event Center CEO. “These venues are really the heart and soul of our fairgrounds year-round and we have all missed doing what we do best – educating and entertaining. I know our animals at the Farm are especially anxious to see visitors again.”

    This will be the first chance for visitors to see the new exhibit at Heroes Hall, Private Charles J. Miller: WWII Paintings from the South Pacific. Through his watercolor paintings and sketches, Miller, of the U.S. Army, shares his story of a soldier’s experience during World War II in the South Pacific. He used limited resources – from large sheets of paper to the insides of cigarette cartons – to create powerful works of art. The exhibit is on loan from The Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro, NH. To learn more, visit

    OC Fair & Event Center’s top priority is the health and safety of guests and staff. Visitors will be required to make reservations in advance so the number of guests can be limited. No walkups will be permitted.

    Before entering, guests will check in at the Wellness Booth for temperature checks. Hand-sanitizing stations have been added and regular cleaning will be conducted throughout the day.

    To reserve a time to visit Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall, go to

    Food or drinks are not allowed but bottled water or water in enclosed containers is permitted. More information can be found on the FAQ page.

  • September 24, 2020 (3:28 pm)

    Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month

    At today’s OC Fair & Event Center Board of Directors meeting, Director Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia honored the heritage of Hispanics in Orange County with a presentation highlighting many significant contributions in myriad fields, including agriculture and the military.

    We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month alongside all who continue to nourish, lead and forge the way to the future.

    We look forward to reopening to the public soon and will invite everyone to visit the Table of Dignity near Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall and to support our agricultural partners.

    The Table of Dignity pays tribute to and exemplifies the struggles, perseverance and accomplishments of the many Hispanic workers who provide sustenance to our nation every day. At Heroes Hall, we tell the stories of veterans and show how their sacrifices have provided us with hard-fought freedom.

    Thanks to the offices of Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Congressman Harley Rouda and Senator John Moorlach who showed their support by presenting certificates during today’s meeting.

    View Director Rubalcava-Garcia’s presentation

  • July 22, 2020 (7:05 pm)

    Browse our Heroes Hall Virtual Museum Collection

    Our veterans museum Heroes Hall is typically open year-round, but unfortunately we’re currently closed. So we put together a Virtual Museum collection of stories and photos of local veterans for you to browse online.

    Please join us in honoring the brave men and women of Orange County who served our country.

    Heroes Hall Virtual Museum

  • April 27, 2020 (9:52 am)

    OC Fair Board cancels 2020 Fair due to pandemic

    The OC Fair & Event Center Board of Directors voted unanimously today to cancel the 2020 OC Fair, one of the most anticipated and enduring summer celebrations in Southern California for 130 years. The Board considered ongoing guidance and updated information from State and County health care and government officials about the status of the coronavirus pandemic and the improbability that mass gatherings like the OC Fair could safely and responsibly take place this summer.

    In addition to the regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the Board called a second April meeting specifically to review all options and discuss whether or not to move forward with the 2020 OC Fair. The action comes amid unprecedented community stay-at-home and social distancing orders and will protect guests, vendors and staff during the COVID-19 crisis.

    “The decision to cancel the 2020 OC Fair was not taken lightly by the Board. As Governor-appointed representatives the Board has a responsibility to provide a safe experience to the community-at-large, the hundreds of people who depend on county fairs for their livelihood, fairgoers and OC Fair staff,” said Board Chair Sandra Cervantes. “While many of our guests have expressed extreme disappointment over the idea of the 2020 Fair being canceled, we strongly believe it is the right thing to do in this current situation. However, we will keep the spirit of the OC Fair alive with virtual fair concepts such as contests, competitions, entertainment and concessions to bring the fair experience to guests through and social media.”

    The 23-day OC Fair welcomes more than 1.3 million fairgoers each year and has an estimated economic impact of $350 million annually. The Fair was canceled 1942-1947 during wartime, but otherwise has been a summer staple since 1890. Information on refunds for concert tickets and Super Passes that have already been purchased can be found at

    “We love the OC Fair as much as our guests do. And, while it’s disappointing that the Fair can’t take place this year, we fully support the Board’s decision,” said Michele Richards, OC Fair & Event Center CEO. “But please know OC Fair & Event Center will still be here to serve the community as we plan for the next OC Fair and the eventual return of our wonderful events.”