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Fair opens Friday

2012 O.C.

'Home Sweet Home' is the theme of this summer's festivities at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

July 12, 2012|By Candice Baker

Get in free from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays with the following donations: five nonperishable food items on July 18; one new children's book or three gently used children's books on July 25; five gently used clothing items on Aug. 1; or one new school supply item valued at $5 or more on Aug. 8.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, get $30 unlimited carnival ride wristbands that also are valid for two free games. The wristbands will be sold until 5 p.m. and will be valid until 8 p.m.

Fridays also offer $2 rides and $2 games, valid until 4 p.m.

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Hog heaven

Free eating contests for kids begin at 6:30 p.m. daily at the Fun Zone Tent, with registration beginning at 6 p.m. Knott's Berry Farm will host an all-ages pie-eating contest in the Exhibit Promenade; register for it beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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Register online each Wednesday for that Saturday's Culinary Arts Special Contests in categories like best cookie, best cupcake, best chili and best hometown dish. Bring your dish on Saturday and have it be judged by fairgoers.

Work off that food competition at the fourth annual Fun Run, slated for 7:30 a.m. Aug. 5. The Centennial Farm Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser will run that morning from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. for $5, if reserved online. Enter through the Blue Gate.

Take a rain check from the office (or plan a long lunch) from noon to 4 p.m. Fridays, when vendors will offer $2 fun-sized samples of favorite fair food like funnel cake, tri-tip, lemonade, cinnamon rolls, corn dogs, gelato, tacos, cotton candy and more.

Prefer food trucks to fair fare? They'll be on hand from noon to 10 p.m. Thursdays inside the gates; purchase all your favorites with fair admission. Live food truck chef competitions are scheduled for July 19 and 28, and amateur chefs will compete against professional chefs on Aug. 2 and 9.

At the food booths, keep an eye out this year for the Big Rib at Biggy's Meat Market — a two-pound beef rib on a 17-inch bone, replete with its own 18-inch doggie bag.

For the fair food that is more a dare than a delicacy, keep an eye out for the famous Chicken Charlie's booths throughout the grounds. New offerings this year include deep-fried cereal, deep-fried peanut butter and jelly, deep-fried Spam, and deep-fried pineapple.

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