Community Commentary: Opening weekend at O.C. Fair sets attendance record

July 18, 2011|By Steve Beazley

Editor's note: Orange County Fair Chief Executive Steve Beazley has agreed to write weekly updates on the 2011 O.C. Fair. His columns will appear Tuesdays in the Daily Pilot for the duration of the fair.

Opening Weekend

And on the fifth day, the Orange County Fair rested. Two days off before the fair resumes Wednesday allows the opportunity to reflect on a historic opening to the 2011 O.C. Fair.

It began Thursday night, when the fair presented the first "A Fair to Remember: A Celebration of Our Children. The fair hosted more than 8,200 foster children and their foster families in an evening of pure fun. The kids and families enjoyed unlimited free food, rides, games and exhibits. This community outreach evening ended with each child and family member being given a ticket to return to the fair anytime. I wish I could share with you the letters of thanks pouring in from foster parents whose children now have lifelong memories of the fair.


That, my friends, is purpose in full swing.

Thursday evening, our box office notified us that pre-sale Super Passes outsold 2010 by 40%. More than 11,000 folks had their Super Pass in hand and were at the starting line ready to race to the fair.

Friday morning, the first hour of free parking and free admission drew more than 32,000 fairgoers, compared with 24,000 in 2010. I guess the word is out on the free hour. Friday's total attendance of more than 70,000 was the biggest opening day in fair history.

Bob Dylan drew almost 10,000 concertgoers Friday evening and kicked off the fair in classic fashion. When an American master opens your fair, something special is bound to happen.

Oh yeah, nestled between Thursday night's afterglow and Friday's opening day festivities, was the announcement by Department of General Services that the sale was officially off. Our employees quickly smiled then resumed servicing our fairgoers, now with a double smile.

That, my friends, is dedication.

Saturday's attendance finished a few thousand behind the highest first Saturday attendance in fair history. The day featured a first-time offering. Discounts are typically reserved for weekdays to drive fair visits to lower attended hours. This year we broke the mold by introducing the Rise and Shine promotion where everyone arriving at the fair between 10 and 11 a.m. pays $2.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles