Since the Los Angeles County Fair is held out in the hill country of Pomona, the Orange County Fair may actually be a shorter drive for many Los Angelenos (especially those living in the Long Beach and South Bay regions). The Orange County Fairground is located just nine miles south of Disneyland (and less than two miles southwest of South Coast Plaza mall) - familiar territory for many locals.
The Orange County Fair begins each year during the second week of July. The admission to this event is only half of what it costs to enter the mammoth Los Angeles County Fair. But perhaps because it's smaller, the Orange County Fair also presents a more genuine, small-town atmosphere than it's gargantuan cousin to the north.
Each year, the Fair offers live concerts by major entertainers. Until 2004, the concerts were free with admission, but more recently the fair concerts were moved to the Pacific Amphithreatre (located just west of the fairgrounds), and they are no longer free. (On the plus side, the quality of the acts booked for the Fair has improved now that they are selling tickets to the concerts.)
In 2012, the Fair will run from Friday, July 13 to Sunday, August 12, 2012 (closed Mondays & Tuesdays).
This year's concerts will include Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Martina McBride, Cody Simpson, former Monkee Mickey Dolenz, American Idol winner Scotty McCreery, Victoria Justice, Young the Giant, Matisyahu, Hot Chelle Rae, Tears for Fears, ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, humorist "Weird Al" Yankovic, and lots of oldie groups such as Three Dog Night, Cinderella, Heart, the Guess Who, The Turtles, and Earth, Wind & Fire.
For a full list of this year's concert performers, go to http://www.ocfair.com.
Tickets prices for the concerts range from $17 to
$59, depending on the performer and the seat location.
Last year, the 2011 concerts included Bob Dylan, Melissa Etheridge, B.B. King, Neon Trees, Weezer, Chris Isaak, Selena Gomez, Big Time Rush, Chicago, Huey Lewis & the News, Three Dog Night & America, Pat Benatar, Paul Rogers, The Steve Miller Band, Kansas & Blue Oyster Cult, and Montgomery Gentry.
The 2010 concerts included American Idol's Adam Lambert, Faith Hill, ZZ Top, "Weird Al" Yankovic, LeAnn Rimes, Train, Martina McBride, The B-52's, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Styx, Bad Company, Sammy Hagar, Blue Oyster Cult & Foghat, John Legend and Dancing With the Stars' Julianne Hough.
The 2009 concerts included American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, Melisa Etheridge, Duran Duran, Smokey Robinson, General Hospital's Rick Springfield, the Moody Blues, The B-52's, Blondie & Pat Benatar, the Black-Eyed Peas, Tears for Fears, Judas Priest, Whitesnake, X, Alan Jackson, Anita Baker, Joan Jett, Huey Lewis & the News, Three Dog Night, KC & the Sunshine Band and Heart.
In 2008, the concerts included Matchbox Twenty, Fergie, Seal & Macy Gray, the Wallflowers & Train, Alan Jackson, Chris Isaak, Emmylou Harris & Ricky Skaggs, Tom Jones & Sheila E, The Wailers, The Stray Cats, the Scorpions & Sammy Hagar, Yaz & Psychedelic Furs, and blues great B.B. King, among others.
In 2007, the acts included Bob Dylan, Willy Nelson, The Bangles & Heart, Leann Rimes, Martina McBride, Lynyrd Skyntrd , Blue October & Plain White Tees, Earth Wind & Fire, Tears for Fears, Kenny Rogers & Dave Mason, and others. Tickets prices ranged from $19 to $89, depending on the performer.
Performers at the Pacific Amphitheatre during the 2006 Fair included Paul Simon, Bill Cosby, Michael Bolton, The Moody Blues, X, Seal, Linda Ronstadt, Chris Isaak, the Steve Miller Band, and others.
The performers at the Pacific Amphitheatre during the 2005 Fair included The B-52s, The Steve Miller Band, Hootie & the Blowfish, Hilary Duff, Pat Benatar, Berlin, X, the Plimsouls, Heart, Tears for Fears, the Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla, Dana Carvey & Victoria Jackson, Julio Iglesias, Beck, Psychedelic Furs, the Fixx, Howard Jones, Flogging Molly, the Vandals, Leann Rimes and Chris Isaak.
Performers for 2004 included Reba McEntire, Bill Cosby, Jessica Simpson, Jackson Browne, John Fogerty, ZZ Top, The Go-Go's & The Motels, Train, Hootie and the Blowfish, Newsboys and Sugar Ray. (Again, these concerts at the Pacific Amphitheatre are not free.)
And for history's sake, here is a rundown on the acts which appeared for free in previous years at the Fair:
In 2003, the bands on stage at the Fair included Billy Bob Thorton, The Bangles, Little River Band, Blue Oyster Cult, Poco, Ziggy Marley, Berlin, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Young Dubliners, The Fab Four and Phil Vassar.
In 2002, the bands on stage at the Fair included Huey Lewis & The News, Linda Ronstadt, Martina McBride, Indigo Girls, The Neville Brothers, The B-52's, The Fab Four, The Guess Who, Styx, Boz Scaggs, Heart and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In 2001, the acts included Dennis Quaid (and his band, the Sharks), Tanya Tucker, Hall & Oates, Three Dog Night, The Village People, REO Speedwagon, En Vogue, The Isley Brothers, David Clayton-Thomas, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lee Greenwood, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and comedian Gallagher.
In 2000, concert performers included Rick Springfield, The Everly Brothers, "Weird Al'' Yankovich, Charo, Isaac Hayes, Jose Feliciano, Taylor Dayne, Doug Kershaw, Steppenwolf, Poco and Firefall.
In 1999, perfomers included Peter Frampton, Sheena Easton, comic/actor Sinbad, "Ally McBeal" singer Vonda Shepard, Three Dog Night, and The Nelson Brothers.
In 1998, one show featured the "Teen Idols Tour," featuring three former teen hearthrobs from the 60's and 70's in concert: Davy Jones (of The Monkees), Peter Noone ('Herman' of Herman's Hermits), and Bobby Sherman. Other 1998 performers included Rick Springfield ("Jessie's Girl"), Joan Jett & The Blackhearts ("I Love Rock & Roll"), Restless Heart ("When She Cries"), Jan & Dean ("Dead Man's Curve"), Charlie Daniels Band ("The Devil Went Down to Georgia"), Rock Hall of Famer Bo Diddley, Sister Sledge ("Sister Sledge"), Chubby Checker ("The Twist"), the Bellamy Brothers ("Let Your Love You"), Jose Feliciano ("Light My Fire"), KC & The Sunshine Band ("Shake Your Booty"), David Gates (formerly of Bread), the popular cowboy trio Riders In The Sky, and comedian Carrot Top.
1997 saw these performers in concert at the Fair: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers ("All The Gold In California," the Grass Roots ("Midnight Confessions"), Pat Boone ("No More Mr. Nice Guy"), MC Lyte ("Cha Cha Cha"), Eddie Money ("Two Tickets to Paradise"), Cosmo's Factory (featuring original members of Creedence Clearwater Revival), Ben Vereen (Broadway Show Tunes), Emilio ("I Love You To Love Me"), John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band ("On The Dark Side"), Diamond Rio ("Meet Me In The Middle"), Jars Of Clay ("Flood"), The Gap Band ("Burn Rubber"), and Chris LeDoux ("Eight Second Ride").
1995-1996, performers included Little Richard
("Tutti Frutti"), Steven Stills
("Love The One You're With"), country band The
Kentucky Headhunters, The Rembrandts
("I'll Be There For You"), Michael
McDonald (former lead singer for the Doobie
Dog Night ("Joy to the World"), Color Me
Badd ("I Wanna Sex You Up"), Ben E. King
("Stand By Me"), John Tesh
(from "Entertainment Tonight"), Loverboy
("Loving Every Minute of It"), Crystal
Gayle ("Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue"),
rap artist Queen Latifah, Melissa
Manchester, Lou Rawls, Kool & the
Gang, Paul Revere & the Raiders,
Temptations, The Association,
Ricky Van Shelton, Vikki Carr,
and The Neville Brothers. Performers
in previous years have included Donny Osmond,
Air Supply, The Jets,
and The Commodores.
In addition to the concerts, the Fair features livestock shows, a rodeo, high diving demonstrations, blue ribbon judging, a horse show, arts & crafts, a daily parade, a model farm, numerous displays, a vast selection of food, and a large major carnival midway.
Getting there: The Fair is held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds. The city of Costa Mesa is bounded by the cities of Huntington Beach on the west, Irvine on the east, Santa Ana on the north, and Newport Beach on the south. The Orange County Fairgrounds are located just off the Costa Mesa (56) Freeway, at Fairview Road & Fair Drive. It is bounded by Fairview Road (on the west), Arlington Drive (on the north), Fair Drive (on the south), and the Costa Mesa Freeway (on the southeast). / From west Los Angeles, take the San Diego (405) Freeway south (about 45 miles) to the Fairview Road exit, then head south on Fairview (about one mile) to Fair Drive. Turn left (east) on Fair Drive to the Fair's main entrance, on your left (north) side. / From Disneyland, take Harbor Boulevard south (about nine and a half miles) to Fair Drive, turn left (east) on Fair Drive, and go less than a mile to the Fairgrounds.
[You can access the Orange
County Fair's official website at: http://www.ocfair.com.]
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