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O.C. Fair breaks attendance record

CEO thinks the 1.5 million visitors prove that the community values the fair.

August 16, 2010|By Mike Reicher, mike.reicher@latimes.com
(Don Leach | don.leach@latimes.com )

If you fry butter, they will come.

This summer's Orange County Fair broke the previous attendance record, fair officials reported today. Mild weather, uncertainty about the fair's future, and perhaps the newest artery-clogging food — deep-fried butter — helped attract 1.15 million people.

The previous record was 1.09 million, set in 2007.

"In some respects, it feels like our team just won the Superbowl," said O.C. Fair & Event Center President and Chief Executive Steve Beazley. "It's very fulfilling, as event producers, to see things go how you envisioned them."

This year, the 120th anniversary of the fair, saw the addition of a new building and entertainment venue called the Hangar, and the continuation of popular discount programs such as food and clothing donation drives.

Beazley said some visitors came because they thought this might be the last fair at this location. Earlier this year the state, which owns the property, almost sold it to a private party. After that deal fell through, the city of Costa Mesa moved to buy the land for $96 million. That sale is still pending approval from the state legislature.

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"I look at fair attendance as a poll," Beazly said. "It shows the community really values the fair."

The Pacific Amphitheatre sold out nine concerts this summer, a record. Some of the best-attended acts were Sublime with Rome/the Dirty Heads and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, according a fair news release.

Wrapping up Sunday, the fair ran for 23 days and nights since July 16.

By the Numbers:

4,000 gallons of soybean oil and 12,000 pounds of flour were used by Chicken Charlie, a long-standing vendor that serves fried desserts and other foods.

2,000 jumbo funnel cakes were eaten. Only one person beat the challenge to finish a cake solo.

8,000 deep-fried butters were sold.

1,500 pieces of deep-fried chocolate-covered bacon were sold.

$174,312 in sales by local 4-H and Future Farmers of America members at the Junior Livestock Auction

19 piglets and a calf were born at Centennial Farms, the fair's agriculture exhibit.

5.3 hours per visit, the average for this summer's fairgoer

Source: OC Fair & Event Center

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