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Community Commentary: FMW had big plans for Fourth at Fairgrounds

July 05, 2011|By Becky Bailey-Findley

The Fourth of July is a special day for celebration.

The holiday marks the beginning of summer. It's a time to gather with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues to celebrate our freedom.

But Independence Day this year was bittersweet for some of us at Facilities Management West.

In anticipation of buying the Orange County Fairgrounds, we had planned a series of innovative new events, including a daylong Fourth of July festival, that would demonstrate FMW's commitment to vitalizing the property during the 11 months the O.C. Fair is dark.

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As I'm sure you're aware, the fairgrounds was closed Monday to allow for preparations of the fair, which begins July 15.

We believe the fairgrounds — with a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater and 150 acres of space — offers one the best places in Orange County to gather in celebration of our independence

Huntington Beach has its historic and patriotic parade. Newport Dunes offers a delightful holiday experience.

I know that we would have provided a fun, safe and memorable Fourth of July for Costa Mesa and all of Orange County.

What would it have looked like?

A sea of red, white and blue.

The day would begin with a countywide pancake breakfast with strawberries (red), whipped cream (white) and blueberries (blue).

In exchange for breakfast, we'd encourage donations to the Centennial Farm Foundation.

At 11 a.m., the "Preview Fair" would open to generate excitement about the upcoming fair. Younger children could feed and pet farm animals, get their faces painted, ride ponies and enjoy magic shows and balloon animals.

For extra fun, we'd have a few favorite carnival rides ready for sampling. We'd sell fried Oreos, fried Snickers, fried everything. We'd give away free fair tickets throughout the day during interactive contests.

Then, as the sun began to set, the fun would really heat up.

Guests would be invited to picnic for free in the parking lot while waiting for the fireworks extravaganza. There would be free entertainment in the parking lot. At the amphitheater, we'd offer a concert featuring a popular country-music artist.

The evening would end with a 45-minute fireworks show visible from all corners of the fairgrounds.

Unfortunately, legal challenges to the sale have blocked our plans — at least for the time being.

But the challenges have not dampened our enthusiasm or love for the fair and all the tradition associated with the fairgrounds.

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