Category Archives: Community programs

  • June 10, 2021 (3:16 pm)

    Fair Board pays tribute to Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

    During May’s OC Fair & Event Center Board of Directors meeting, members representing the Community Affairs Committee paid tribute to Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. 

    The presentation highlighted the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to Orange County’s communities, education and heritage, and to agriculture throughout California.

    View entire presentation

  • April 29, 2021 (9:27 am)

    Take a quick survey to help OC Fair & Event Center

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  • August 27, 2020 (4:10 pm)

    New farmers market program provides more fresh produce to low-income people in OC

    A new program to provide local families and individuals receiving CalFresh benefits with additional healthy produce is starting Sept. 3 at the Costa Mesa Certified Farmers Market at OC Fair & Event Center.

    The Market Match program provides nutrition incentives to help low-income residents stretch their CalFresh shopping dollars to afford more healthy, locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables. As a direct result, the program also supports small- and mid-sized local farms and boosts the local economy.

    Thanks to a grant from the Gus Schumacher Incentive Program, those receiving CalFresh EBT (electronic benefits transfer) can use their cards to get more healthy food from the the Costa Mesa Certified Farmers Market held at OC Fair & Event Center.

    Participants can swipe their card at at the Market Manager’s Booth to receive up to an additional $20 in Market Match incentives per visit through the use of tokens/scrip.

    Matching funds can be spent on eligible CalFresh items such as fresh fruits and vegetables. CalFresh Market Match signs will be posted at the farmers market to help program participants navigate the offerings.

    The Costa Mesa Certified Farmers Market takes place each Thursday at OC Fair & Event Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Pacific Amphitheatre box office in Lot D.

    The Centennial Farm Foundation was organized in 1991 to support educational programs at the farm and to solicit and disburse funds to operate Centennial Farm and other agriculturally and youth-related education programs and exhibits of OC Fair & Event Center. For more information, visit https://ocfair.com/community-programs/centennial-farm/centennial-farm-foundation/

    For more information on the Orange County Farm Bureau, visit https://www.ocfarmbureau.org/

  • 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 ocfair.com 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 ocfair.com/refunds.

    “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.”

  • April 1, 2020 (10:02 am)

    Centennial Farm donates produce to OC Food Bank

    Centennial Farm, which is currently closed to the public, sure does miss its after-school program, class tours and visitors. 

    But in the meantime, we are doing what we can to help our community by donating produce to OC Food Bank. Our hard-working farm staff has harvested several pounds of carrots, different types of lettuce and more.

    The farm staff is also making sure the livestock at Centennial Farm continues to be fed and cared for. Most of the rest of OC Fair & Event Center staff is working from home while the fairgrounds are closed.

    As always, thank you for your support of Centennial Farm. And make sure to check in on the pigs anytime at ocfair.com/pigcam.

  • February 28, 2020 (11:49 am)

    New OC Fair & Event Center Community Engagement Program approved

    The OC Fair & Event Center Board of Directors voted Feb. 27 to approve a new Community Engagement Program aimed at helping local community groups, nonprofits and government agencies by supporting projects and events this year.

    A Community Engagement Program was proposed by CEO Michele Richards as a way to include employees and the board in decisions on how OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) supports local efforts that are in alignment with the agency’s mission and that meet specific criteria. OCFEC’s mission is “Celebration of Orange County’s communities, interests, agriculture and heritage.”

    As part of OCFEC’s 2020 budget, a $150,000 Community Engagement Fund was set aside and a committee of two board members was created to work with a 10-member employee panel to determine which requests will be approved and funded.

    “The idea of this Community Engagement Program is extremely important to me. I want a fully transparent process in place and I believe it is in the best interest of the organization and public for our employees to be involved in this decision-making,” said Richards. “We want these funds to help further our mission and to lift up the people and the organizations out there doing such good work in our communities.”

    The Community Engagement Fund is one of several ways that OCFEC provides support to local philanthropic groups and other organizations.

    The Community Meeting Space Program allows groups to use meeting rooms for free or at a discount and the Community Event Rental Waiver program offers free or discounted use of facilities for events and larger meetings. Facilities must not be booked for other uses and particular criteria must be met. Staffing and equipment rental or usage costs are not included in the fee waiver and are subject to charges.

    Organizations interested in applying for any of OCFEC’s community programs can soon fill out an application online at ocfair.com/communityprograms.

  • June 3, 2019 (11:54 am)

    OC Fair helps Anaheim Packing House celebrate 100 years

    From The Anaheim Blog

    The iconic Anaheim Packing House in downtown’s Center City is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with a jam-packed citrus themed event on Saturday, June 1.

    You’ll find live entertainment, tours and giveaways, as well as citrus-themed food and drinks, pop-ups, vendors and more.

    The fun kicks off at 11 a.m. with a citrus and avocado gardening class. Live entertainment follows and includes a variety of bands from rockabilly to swing throughout the afternoon and evening.

    Citrus-themed vendors and pop-ups by Sunkist and OC Fair will be on hand at the adjacent Farmers Park along Anaheim Boulevard. That’s where you’ll find a community art project, citrus cocktail garden and a nighttime showing of a Packing House documentary.

    Throughout the day, restaurants in the Packing House will be offering citrus-themed menu items.

    The fun wraps up at 10 p.m. with additional events throughout the year for the centennial celebration.

    Later this year, the Packing House and Farmers Park will host the World Taste event on Sept. 25 and the Anaheim Night Market on Dec. 14. Stay tuned for details.

    For more, visit Anaheimpackingdistrict.com/100year.

  • August 13, 2018 (11:34 am)

    2018 OC Fair breaks records and gives back to the community

    COSTA MESA (Aug. 13, 2018) – The 128th OC Fair welcomed a record 1,470,636 guests who enjoyed 35 sold-out shows, ate hundreds of thousands of chocolate chip cookies and freed their inner farmers by greeting 11 new piglets at Centennial Farm.
     
    “2018 was a banner year for the OC Fair in so many ways,” said OC Fair & Event Center CEO Kathy Kramer. “We want to thank the community for coming out in record-breaking numbers to enjoy the best celebration of the summer. We’re proud that 87% of guests surveyed said they increased their knowledge of agriculture and gave us a 4.62 overall enjoyment rating (out of 5).”
     
    Through its community programs, the OC Fair collected 11,055 children’s books, 10,769 items of clothing, 8,849 cans of food and 8,229 school supplies for local charities through the We Care Wednesday program during which guests received free admission with their donation.
     
    The Friends of the Fair program welcomed 4,501 guests with special needs for a free VIP experience while the OC Fair Kids Club brought 1,150 children from local Title 1 programs to the Fair for a special experience that included free admission and rides, a gift card and bus service.
     
    The final audited attendance figures show an increase of increase 10% from the 2017 number of 1,334,753. Final revenue numbers will be released in October.
     
    “The annual Fair funds our community give-back programs, agriculture education and supports Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall, so a great year for the Fair pays dividends all year long,” said Kramer.
     
    This year the OC Fair offered more discounts and promotions than ever before to help make the event more accessible. New in 2018 was Overalls Day and 3,140 fairgoers received free admission on Thursdays when they wore the denim classics. And a new carnival wristband deal was added to Sundays.
     
    The most popular one-time promotion was the opening day “Free Till 3” admission and parking deal and 38,091 guests arrived early on July 13 to get the party started. Half-price early-bird weekend admission attracted 73,091 fairgoers. Some 16,610 veterans and active members of the military received free admission during the run of the fair and their family members purchased 22,647 discounted tickets.
     
    On Thursdays, 25,158 children received free admission for Kids Day and more than 13,000 free carnival rides were provided to children who participated in the Read and Ride program.
     
    The previous attendance record for the 23-day event was set in 2011 when 1,400,280 fairgoers turned out for the “Let’s Eat” theme and watched sold-out concerts by Bob Dylan, Selena Gomez, Blake Shelton, Weezer, Chicago and more in Pacific Amphitheatre.
     
    The 2018 OC Fair also broke the previous single-day attendance record when 86,334 fairgoers arrived on Saturday, July 28. That turnout bested the record of 84,986 guests who visited the Fair on July 21, 2001, to see the Orange Crush Demolition Derby debut, the “I Love Lucy” 50th-anniversary exhibit and to ride La Grande Wheel and the Euroslide for the first time at the OC Fair.
     
    The OC Fair is currently the second-largest Fair in California by attendance, behind only the San Diego County Fair which runs three days longer. Nationally, the OC Fair ranks seventh by attendance.
     
    Here are some more wrap-up numbers:
     
    Guests
     
    Survey – Results of the 10-day patron survey showed that 48% rated food as their favorite part of the Fair. Of those surveyed, 25% were first-time fairgoers and 48% are OC residents.
     
    Super Pass – 15,518 guests went for the season’s best deal and received free admission to all 23 days of the Fair and express entry lines along with deals on shows and concerts.
     
    OC Fair Express – The bus service that picks up from nine different OCTA locations on Saturdays and Sundays brought 79,684 guests straight to the Fair. 
     
    Food
     
    RCS carnival midway concessions – Sold 1,000 pounds of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, 2,000 pounds of bacon-wrapped pork belly, one orchard of lemons, 5,000 chicken wings and 750 gallons of BBQ sauce.
     
    Cathy’s Cookies – Baked 300,000 chocolate chip cookies.
     
    Chicken Charlie’s – Fried 3,000 pounds of filet mignon, went through a truckload of vegetable oil, two pallets of cookie dough and an actual truckload of chicken.
     
    Bacon-A-Fair – Guests purchased some 400,000 pieces of bacon in all forms.
     
    Chuckwagon BBQ –Cooked 9,700 ears of corn, 3,112 cups of corn, 21,000 beef brisket sandwiches, 7,784 blooming onions, 11,000 pounds of pork ribs and 12,000 pounds of waffle fries.
     
    Noel’s – Sold 20,834 tacos.
     
    Juicy’s – Served 119,950 onion rings. 
     
    Australian Battered Potatoes – Sold 7,000 pounds of potatoes and 140 pounds of bacon.
     
    Ten Pound Buns – Cooked up 6,500 pounds of Ten Pound Buns.
     
    Hot Dog on Stick – Served 17,200 hot dogs on sticks.
     
    Entertainment
     
    Pacific Amphitheatre – The Toyota Summer Concert Series at Pacific Amphitheatre hosted 34 shows, including four pre-Fair shows and there are seven post-Fair shows coming up. There were nine sold-out shows including Trevor Noah, Steve Martin and Martin Short, Psychedelic Furs/X/The Fixx, Earth, Wind & Fire, Brett Eldredge, Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss, Rebelution (two concerts), Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton and Stray Cats.
     
    Action Sports Arena – There was a spectacle every night in Action Sports Arena, plus five matinees, totaling 28 adrenaline-pumping shows. The Daredevils & Wheels motorcycle stunt show was new this year. There were 13 sold-out events including Speedway, Broncs & Bulls rodeo, five monster truck shows and all six demolition derbies during which 45 cars and trucks and 12 motorhomes were smashed.
     
    The Hangar – Tribute bands, classic rock bands and mariachi acts brought the fans to The Hangar where there were 12 sold-out shows in 2018: Rumours, Dead Man’s Party, Firefall with Poco, Elton the Early Years, Queen Nation, Hotel California, Journey Unauthorized, Zeppelin Live, Ozomatli, I Am King, Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez and Devotional/Hollywood Erasure.
     
    Community entertainment – There were 524 community entertainers performing throughout the day on five different stages and across the fairgrounds. 
     
    Rides and games – La Grande Wheel XL was the No. 1 ride and Bank A Ball was the top game. Ray Cammack Shows reports that nearly 2.5 million fairgoers enjoyed the rides this year.
     
    Exhibits and competitions
     
    My Fair Selfie – OC Fair’s first-ever pop-up palace of photo fun was open for 18 days and featured 11 backdrops made for photography. The limited-run exhibit was visited by 36,003 guests.
     
    Bounty of the County – Three large-scale murals honoring local agriculture enterprises were created by artist John Cerney and installed at the main Fair entry gates.
     
    Outstanding in their Fields – Life-size portraits of 29 people who play a role in California agriculture were placed throughout the fairgrounds and their video stories played for guests who scanned them with an app.
     
    Heroes Hall – Open for its second OC Fair, Heroes Hall welcomed 19,375 visitors and 11,450 of them experienced the new Bravemind exhibit’s VR technology. Taps was performed every evening of the Fair, five times by bugle and 18 times on the harmonica.
     
    Competitions – Overall, there were 5,554 exhibitors with a total of 14,530 entries. The OC Fair presented a total of 1,189 first-place ribbons. There were 4,866 entries in the Garden & Floral competition. There were more than 1,300 tomatoes entered and more than 2,000 cut flower entries. At this year’s Junior Livestock Auction, 312 animals were sold for a total of $301,854.
     
    Explorium – During the daily eating contests, 23 Fair food vendors donated food for the 1,035 contest participants. Frank Thurston performed 66 magic shows and 5,616 water balloons helped keep little fairgoers cool. There were 210 entries in the kids’ art competitions.
     
    Arts – Two tons of clay was used in Muddy’s Pottery Studio during demonstrations and 1,104 hours of volunteer time were logged. In visual arts, there were 6,194 competition entries and 4,465 were in the photography category. 
     
    The OC Fair Fun Run – Celebrated its 10th anniversary with 2,923 registered runners.
     
    The 2018 OC Fair was held July 13-Aug. 12 at OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, and offered 23 days and nights of entertainment, food, rides, shopping, exhibits and more. OC Fair & Event Center is also home to Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall – both open to the public year-round.
  • April 25, 2018 (5:35 pm)

    First students graduate from Hatch Culinary Lab

    Armed with knife skills learned at a new cutting-edge cooking academy, the first students graduated the free culinary education program housed in our commercial kitchen on the.

    The new education program is a partnership between OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC), CulinaryLab Cooking School, Anaheim’s Innovative Mentorship Experience program (AIME) and Spectra, the Fair’s master concessionaire.

    This community program will provide up to 50 students with training in everything from cookery basics and making healthy meals to safety and sanitation. The spring session will started Feb. 28 with the first 20 students from Kennedy, Savanna and Western high schools working for eight weeks. A summer internship program and fall certification series will follow, culminating in an event to feed the local homeless community.

    The team from CulinaryLab in Tustin is donating staff and time to the program and has created new curriculum tailored to provide students with the basics on how food works, healthy cooking skills and simple recipes they can practice at home with minimal cost and prep time. The goal is to excite students about cooking and food service and empower them to be confident individuals ready to secure career positions.

    The OCFEC commercial kitchen has been revamped from a solely commercial facility to a fully-equipped teaching kitchen with additional cooking stations, appliances, storage, tables and cookware. The approx. 6,500 sq. ft. facility is operated by Spectra and manager Juan Quintero says the company will also donate kitchen labor, such as dishwashers, to support the program.

     

    Posted in: Community Programs, OC Fair & Event Center

  • February 28, 2018 (11:45 am)

    New Hatch Culinary Lab at OC Fair & Event Center provides free training for young chefs

    COSTA MESA (Feb. 28, 2018) – A new cutting-edge cooking academy has opened at OC Fair & Event Center to empower underserved youth through free culinary education and mentorship. A commercial kitchen on the fairgrounds has been transformed into Hatch Culinary Lab.

    The new education program is a partnership between OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC), CulinaryLab Cooking School, Anaheim’s Innovative Mentorship Experience program (AIME) and Spectra, the Fair’s master concessionaire.

    OCFEC has invested an initial $54,000 in equivalent value in this community program that this year will provide up to 50 students with training in everything from knife skills, cookery basics and making healthy meals to safety and sanitation. The spring session started Feb. 28 with the first 20 students from Kennedy, Savanna and Western high schools working for eight weeks. A summer internship program and fall certification series will follow, culminating in an event to feed the local homeless community.

    “We have an opportunity to change the lives of students through Hatch Culinary Lab and it is important for us to step in to help,” said OCFEC CEO Kathy Kramer. “Here at the OC Fair we love food, so this program is close to our hearts and ties in perfectly with our community give-back mission. I look forward to growing this program to include training for both kitchen staff and front-of-the-house positions.”

    The team from CulinaryLab in Tustin is donating staff and time to the program and has created new curriculum tailored to provide students with the basics on how food works, healthy cooking skills and simple recipes they can practice at home with minimal cost and prep time. The goal is to excite students about cooking and food service and empower them to be confident individuals ready to secure employment.

    “At CulinaryLab, we do everything we can to immerse students in the world of cooking with experimentation, tons of repetitive hands-on practice, and by involving local chef partners in the teaching process,” said Chef Ryan Wagner. “The goal of the Hatch program is to bring that same high-level culinary education to high school students who might otherwise not have access to it.”

    The OCFEC commercial kitchen has been revamped from a solely commercial facility to a fully equipped teaching kitchen with additional cooking stations, appliances, storage, tables and cookware. The approx. 6,500 sq. ft. facility is operated by Spectra and manager Juan Quintero says the company will also donate kitchen labor, such as dishwashers, to support the program.

    “The Spectra team is excited to be part of this community education program. This is really a win-win situation for us,” said Quintero. “Not only do we get to work with the student chefs and see their transformation, but we want to hire program graduates to work at the OC Fair doing kitchen prep and cooking for special events.”

    Students from Anaheim Unified School District’s AIME program have been selected to participate in the first Hatch Culinary Lab sessions. More than 70 percent of AIME students come from economically challenged backgrounds and spend their time outside of school assisting their families, either at home or by working. The program will provide transportation and additional supervision for Hatch students.

    There are plans for the program to expand through partnerships with Costa Mesa and Santa Ana school districts to serve up to 80 students annually. Wagner estimated that students will gain up to $20,000 worth of culinary education through the Hatch program and he is seeking to secure restaurant partners to help further students’ training.

    About CulinaryLab Cooking School
    CulinaryLab is a forward-focused cooking school where timeless techniques meet cutting-edge curriculum and real-world training to cook up bold, contemporary cuisine. CulinaryLab seeks to reinvent culinary training with programs that harnesses the power of today’s innovations to train tomorrow’s culinary arts and management visionaries. CulinaryLab is the first school of its kind that combines community-built curriculum, tech-savvy training, hands-on learning and a 1,000-hour apprenticeship in high level local restaurants.

    CulinaryLab’s Chef Ryan Wagner is a Certified Executive Chef with 23 years of food and beverage experience, including running restaurant kitchens, high-profile event catering and various leadership roles in culinary education.

    More at https://www.culinarylabschool.com/

    About AIME
    AIME’s mission is to partner with businesses and community organizations to provide students in the Anaheim Union High School District with mentoring experiences that will enhance their college, career, and life-readiness skills, as well as build lasting connections within the community.​​ AIME, a comprehensive mentorship program that also includes opportunities for paid summer internships, holds the promise of transforming the lives of our students as they prepare for the demands of college and career and make connections in the community.

    More at http://anaheimhs.org/Anaheim/72681-AIME-Internship.html

    About Spectra
    Spectra by Comcast Spectacor is an industry leader in hosting and entertainment, partnering with clients to create memorable experiences for millions of visitors every year. Spectra’s unmatched blend of integrated services delivers incremental value for clients through several primary areas of expertise: Venue Management, Food Services & Hospitality, and Partnerships.

    More at http://www.spectraexperiences.com/

    About OC Fair & Event Center
    OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa is home to the annual OC Fair. Year-round attractions include Centennial Farm, Table of Dignity, Heroes Hall and Pacific Amphitheatre. Throughout the year events ranging from recreation shows to cultural festivals are held at the fairgrounds.

     

    Posted in: Community Programs