Category Archives: OC Fair & Event Center

  • Monday, November 28, 2022 (2:13 pm)

    OC Fair wins awards from festival and exposition industry organization

    The results are in for the International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE) 2022 Achievement Awards and OC Fair & Event Center is the recipient of several. IAFE represents fairs and expositions worldwide, so to even place is an honor.

    The 2022 OC Fair was recognized in several categories with two first-place awards, five second-place honors and one third-place award.

    First place went to the 2022 OC Fair Food Guide, Heroes Hall Speakers Series and 2022 Fair Poster.

    Second place went to the OC Fair’s Mermaid exhibit photo, mini donkey competition, California Fresh exhibit and fairy garden photo.

    Third place went to OC Fair & Event Center’s poppy seed packets.

    The awards were presented during the 2022 Virtual Awards Show on both Zoom and Facebook Live.

    IAFE, based in Springfield, Mo., is a voluntary, nonprofit corporation, serving state, provincial, regional, and county agricultural fairs, shows, exhibitions and expositions. Its associate members include state and provincial associations of fairs, non-agricultural expositions and festivals, associations, corporations and individuals engaged in providing products and services to its members, all of whom are interested in the improvement of fairs, shows, expositions and allied fields.

  • Tuesday, October 25, 2022 (2:21 pm)

    OC Fair & Event Center wins international industry awards

    OC Fair & Event Center was awarded four top honors from the International Festival & Events Association at its annual Pinnacle Awards competition in September.

    A gold award recognized the organization’s e-newsletter as the best in show. Silver awards honored OCFEC’s TV promotion and outdoor billboard and a bronze award was given for best promotional poster.

    Each year IAFE recognizes the top organizations internationally in the festival and events world.

  • Monday, April 11, 2022 (4:11 pm)

    Upcoming April events at OC Fair & Event Center

    ♦ Discovery Day at the Farm, April 14 & April 27
    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: Thursday, April 14, and Tuesday, April 27, 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

    ♦ Fight Club OC, April 14
    Pro boxing and MMA bring live action to The Hangar.

    Hours: Thursday, April 14, 7 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: The Hangar
    How much: $60 tickets, parking is $10.
    More info: Visit

    ♦ Speaker Series: Mexican American Pilots of WWII, April 16
    Judge Frederick Aguirre will present a photographic display of 11 World War II bomber pilots. He will weave in statistics regarding the service of over 500,000 Mexican American service members in WWII and discuss the challenges they faced due to their Mexican heritage. 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, April 16, 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

    ♦ Bubble Run, April 16
    Participants run, walk, dance and play across 3 miles of rad real estate. Foam Bogs of colored suds are encountered along the course, bringing back memories of car washes and bathtub bubble beards.

    Hours: Saturday, April 16; check-in begins at 6 a.m.
    The Bubble Run has three separate start times (8, 9 and 10 a.m.). Please plan on arriving 60-90 minutes prior to wave start. Packet pickup is available at Road Runner Sports in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 15, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (no fee). Race Day packet pickup at the OC Fairgrounds is also available ($5 cash-only fee).
    Where on the fairgrounds: Lots I and G
    How much: Free admission (event insurance purchase required, plus fees), parking is $10
    More info: Visit

    ♦ Foam Glow, April 16
    Foam Glow 5K is a fun-filled experience exposing runners to Glowing Foam and a ton of blacklights all over the course. Glowing runners come from all different ages, shapes, sizes and speeds.

    Hours: Saturday, April 16, 7-10 p.m.; check-in starts at 5 p.m.
    Please plan on arriving 60-90 minutes prior to wave start. Packet pickup is available at Road Runner Sports in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 15, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (no fee). Race Day packet pickup at the OC Fairgrounds is also available ($5 cash-only fee).
    Where on the fairgrounds: Lots I and G
    How much: Free admission (event insurance purchase required, plus fees), parking is $10
    More info: Visit

    ♦ The Original O.C. Swap Meet, April 23-24
    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: Saturday & Sunday, April 23-24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: Lot D
    How much: Free admission. Parking is $10.
    More info: Check, email or call (949) 302-0355

    ♦ OC Fair Board of Directors meeting, April 28
    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

    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.

    ♦ The SDCCU OC Marathon Running Festival, April 29-May 1
    Join us as we celebrate Orange County with the 18th Annual OC Running Festival. Event weekend includes OC Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Kids Run the OC and the Celebrate OC 5K – not to mention activations from various sponsors, and the celebrate OC festival!

    OC Lifestyle and Fitness Expo – Friday, April 29, 4 -8 p.m. & Saturday, April 30, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
    OC 5K & Kids Run the OC – Saturday, April 30, 5 p.m. (Finish Line Festival is 3-7 p.m.)
    SDCCU OC Marathon start – Sunday, May 1, 5:30 a.m.
    SDCCU OC Half Marathon start – Sunday, May 1, 6:15 a.m. (Finish Line Festival is 8 a.m.-noon)
    How much: Visit for registration fees. Admission to OC Lifestyle & Fitness Expo is free. Parking at OC Fair & Event Center is $10.

    Ongoing events at OC Fair & Event Center
    ♦ COVID testing – Open Monday-Friday
    Free COVID testing on the fairgrounds.

    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)
    How much: Free drive-through COVID-19 testing
    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

    ♦ Heroes Hall Museum – Open Wednesday-Sunday
    Visit our museum to view the latest exhibits and learn about local veterans. The museum is currently closed for exhibit installation but will reopen on Feb. 16.

    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

    ♦ Centennial Farm – Open daily
    Visit 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

    Coming up in May
    ♦ 626 Night Market OC, May 6-8 & May 13-15
    626 Night Market is back at OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California. The iconic Californian festival features 200+ food, merchandise, crafts, arts, games, music and entertainment attractions in an epic event that appeals to all ages. Come happier and hungrier together with friends and family for the biggest reunion of the summer!

    When: May 6-8 and May 13-15
    Hours: Friday, 4-11 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 1-11 p.m.
    Where on the fairgrounds: OC Promenade, Lot G and Lot I
    How much: $5 admission plus fees; free for children 3 and younger. Parking is $10. Most vendors accept cash only; ATMs are available.
    More info: Visit 626 Night Market

    Also in May:
    ♦ AAOC Trade Show & Conference, May 5
    ♦ March for Babies Orange County, May 7
    ♦ California Sneaker Convention, May 7
    ♦ Gem Faire, May 13-15
    ♦ Garden Classes, May 14 & May 21
    ♦ SOS Wild & Crazy Taco Night, May 19
    ♦ Sand Sports Super SWAP, May 21
    ♦ Costa Mesa Speedway, May 21
    ♦ Scottish Fest, May 28-29

    View all events

  • Thursday, April 7, 2022 (3:05 pm)

    Imaginology is this weekend!

    Imaginology returns in person this Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10! We’ve got a packed schedule of take-home crafts, science experiments, live performances by local entertainers, youth competitions and more.

    The free two-day event gives students the chance to explore careers in the S.T.E.A.M. fields –that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math – as well as agriculture education.

    After being canceled in 2020 and going virtual in 2021, this year the family fest returns IN PERSON with activities and entertainment for kids of all ages.

    Programming includes:

    Science exploration

    Local exhibitors like Compass Charter Schools, YMCA of Orange County and Gemology will provide hands-on experimenting. Plus, try a little physical science with activities like hula hoops, Recess Revolution’s free-play area, or Heroes Hall Museum’s Fort Blisters Boot Camp.

    Tech lessons

    The Coder School and National College Resources Foundation will be on hand to talk about the future and the history of computers. Plus, OC Fair has a fun augmented reality activity in which kids can make their own coloring page come alive!

    Engineering playtime

    From woodcarving and scroll saws to Rigamajigs and module trains, there will be plenty to put together at Imaginology. Harbor Soaring Society will host aerospace adventures, Brain Builders will show off robots and LEGOs and Imaginology’s cardboard engineering competition will be on display.

    Arts in crafts, displays and more

    Local entertainers such as dance groups, DJs and music groups will provide live entertainment at the Main Stage. There is also a plethora of hands-on crafting – many of which come with a take-home project! Plus, Imaginology’s mural competition will be on display.

    Math by way of strategy

    We can find math in just about everything (like having students count out the cash for a burger and brat!). But logic and mathematical reasoning is the way to win at chess, and the local Academic Chess chapter will host their annual Tournament of Champions on Saturday from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Registration is $30 at

    Agricultural education

    Livestock competitions and exhibits will be on display throughout Imaginology. Plus, OC Fair & Event Center’s year-round Centennial Farm will feature activities such as radish seed planting, a terrarium makeshop, oxen demos and more – and don’t miss a peek at the piglets born March 16. There will also be blacksmithing demonstrations at the Farm.

    When: Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
    How much: Admission is free and most activities are included. Parking is $10. Food will be available for purchase.

    For more information including a full list of exhibitors and food that will be available, visit

  • Monday, April 4, 2022 (10:08 am)

    Give your feedback on the future of the fairgrounds

    The OC Fair & Event Center Board of Directors is seeking public comments on a draft three-year strategic plan to determine the future direction of the state-owned property.

    The Board is considering the following: New vision and mission statements and strategic direction for the annual OC Fair, year-round events program, educational assets/foundations, the equestrian center, community support and implementation steps.

    The draft plan is posted on our website for public review and comment. Please submit your comments using the online form by April 26.

  • Friday, March 18, 2022 (4:12 pm)

    Heroes Hall Supervisor presented with Woman of Distinction award

    Please join us in congratulating Heroes Hall Supervisor Carol Singleton, who was named one of the 2022 Women of Distinction, presented by Rep. Michelle Steel.

    Rep. Steel presented the 2022 Women of Distinction awards to 18 of Orange County’s best and brightest female leaders in the categories of Education, Health & Wellness, Compassionate Community, Public Service, Veterans’ Services, Public Safety, Community Partnership, Financial Service, and Youth Champions.

    Throughout the rest of #WomensHistoryMonth, Rep. Steel will be sharing profiles of each of these exceptional women on her Facebook page: Be sure to follow along to learn about their remarkable contributions to our area.

  • Friday, 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.

  • Wednesday, 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

  • Tuesday, January 25, 2022 (10:44 am)

    OC Fair & Event Center earns Western Fairs Association honors

    Western Fairs Association honored  OC Fair & Event Center with 19 Achievement Awards at its annual convention in Reno this month.

    First-place awards included the new fair exhibit, California Fresh, and new children’s program for the OC Fair’s Experience the Great Outdoors exhibit. Other honors included the fair theme – Time for Fun – the fair logo, fair TV commercial, Junior Livestock Auction and several first-place photography awards. OCFEC also received second-place honors for agricultural programming. 

    Western Fairs Association is a trade group supporting the fair and festival industry.

    OC Fair & Event Center earned the following awards:

    Single Television Ad

    1st Award and Judges’ Choice 

    Fair Logo

    1st Award

    Year-Round Logo

    1st Award

    Special Event Logo

    1st Award and Judges’ Choice 

    Virtual & Live Auctions

    1st Award for pre-Fair Junior Livestock Auction

    Agricultural Programming

    2nd Award for Centennial Farm’s partnership with Don Knipp, a.k.a. “Mr. Fertilizer,” and La Verne Nursery during the 2021 OC Fair

    Theme Program

    1st Award and Judges’ Choice for Time For Fun and its  programming during the 2021 OC Fair

    New Fairtime Exhibit 

    1st Award for California Fresh: Celebrating the Bounty Of Our Counties

    New Children’s Program

    1st Award and Judges’ Choice for Explore the Great Outdoors

    Give It Your Best Shot: Animals

    Two 1st Awards

    Give It Your Best Shot: Carnival

    Two 1st Awards, Award of Excellence – Overall Best Photo, and Award of Excellence – Third Best Overall Photo

    Give It Your Best Shot: Exhibits

    1st Award and 2nd Award

    Give It Your Best Shot: Entertainment

    1st Award and 2nd Award

    Give It Your Best Shot: People at the Fair

    1st Award and 2nd Award

  • Monday, December 27, 2021 (8:03 am)

    CEO Michele Richards named top influencer of 2021 by OC Register

    Congratulations to OC Fair & Event Center CEO Michele Richards on being named one of the most influential people of 2021  in Orange County by the OC Register.

    “Michele Richards

    As CEO of the OC Fair & Event Center, Richards helped shepherd the return of the OC Fair during the coronavirus pandemic with several sold-out dates. Even with caps on attendance, the fair turned a profit in 2021.”

    Read the full article:

    Most influential: Meet Orange County’s 125 top influencers for 2021