Tuesday, June 27, 2017 (4:47 pm)

OC Fair Kids Club joins slate of community give-back programs

A new program will help as many as 1,000 children visit the 2017 OC Fair – children who otherwise might not have the means to attend. Students from Title 1 and other programs will receive a free bus trip to the Fair, carnival ride coupons and a gift card as participants in the OC Fair Kids Club.

Most Wednesdays and Thursdays during the 23-day Fair, busses will arrive before the Fair opens and children will get the opportunity to enjoy special activity stations at Centennial Farm. They will also learn about Heroes Hall veterans museum, which will be open during the Fair for the first time this year.

Organizations had the opportunity to apply to participate in OC Fair Kids Club, a program that is fully funded by the OC Fair & Event Center to provide a chance for children in underserved communities to enjoy the Fair.

“When I was meeting with a nonprofit manager earlier this year, I heard that families served by the organization couldn’t afford to come to the Fair and I knew I wanted to do something to change that,” said OC Fair & Event Center CEO Kathy Kramer. “In this first year we will help 1,000 children experience the Fair and we want to keep expanding OC Fair Kids Club annually. These community programs are so important.”

OC Fair Kids Club is the third community give-back program aimed at making the Fair more accessible and more charitable. OCFEC was honored earlier this year by the Western Fairs Association for its Friends of the Fair and We Care Wednesday initiatives.

Friends of the Fair

The Friends of the Fair program provides a free, private fair experience each summer for guests with special needs. The event is held in the morning before the fair officially opens and participants enjoy carnival rides, interactive experiences with first responders and visits to livestock areas. On July 20, more than 8,000 people are expected to participate in the program that was launched in 1989.

Without the usual number of visitors on site, Friends of the Fair guests with wheelchairs and other assistance devices can more easily enjoy the attractions. Event attendance is limited so visitors can also enjoy the experience at their own pace, in a calmer environment.

Thanks to a partnership with Ray Cammack Shows, Friends of the Fair guests have fun on midway rides that might otherwise be difficult for them to enjoy. Employees of the carnival company arrive early to operate the rides and assist participants.

During their visit, guests tour Centennial Farm to learn about fruits and vegetables and see the resident farm animals. They also explore the competitive livestock area and petting zoo. Local police and fire departments and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department have partnered with the fair to showcase their ground and air vehicles and allow guests to take pictures from the driver’s seat.

We Care Wednesday

On We Care Wednesdays, guests receive free fair admission and one complimentary carnival ride when they bring donations for partnering nonprofit organizations. The donations support a different nonprofit every Wednesday between noon and 3 p.m. during the run of the Fair.

July 19 – donations of five nonperishable food items per guest benefit Second Harvest Food Bank and the OC Food Bank. 
July 26 – donations of three new or gently used children’s books per guest go to Think Together. 
Aug. 2 – donations of five clothing items per guest benefit Goodwill Orange County. 
Aug. 9 – donations of school supplies valued at $5 or more (receipt required) per guest go to Share Our Selves.

In 2016, the We Care Wednesday program provided 28 tons of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank, more than 56,000 new and used books to Share Our Selves, some 37,000 pounds of clothing to Goodwill Orange County and more than 150,000 school supplies to Think Together to assist low-income children.

The popular We Care Wednesday program was launched in 1999 and attracts more than 20,000 Fairgoers each week. Every three years nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to apply to become a We Care Wednesday partner.