OC Fair announces summer dates, COVID-19 modifications

Orange County Fair 

The annual Orange County Fair is scheduled to take place July 16 through August 15, and the Orange County Fair and Events Center is altering capacity, ticket purchasing and event features during the pandemic. 

“The recommendation for staff at this time is for the board to approve the 2021 OC Fair dates for July 16 through August 15, but at the same time to authorize the CEO to use alternative dates of August 25 through September 19 if necessary,” said Michelle Richards, general manager and CEO of OCFEC.

The organization is keeping an eye on actions taken by amusement parks located in and surrounding OC, including Disneyland’s recent reopening announcement and the predicted reopening of SeaWorld. The OCFEC intends to progress with their partners associated with the re-opening process as well. 

“We’ve been in constant contact with them, and they are ready,” Richards said. 

OCFEC plans to re-evaluate the dates for the fair on April 30, and based on the state of COVID-19 at the time, the opening date could be delayed into the fall. 

In order to mandate proper social distancing, the set protocol includes a limit of 45,000 people per day. Tickets must be reserved for specific days and are set to start selling online on May 1.

“We’re very clear in our refund policy, that there are no refunds,” Richards said. 

The board has been working in accordance with the Orange County Health Care Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health.  Some rides won’t be included due to social distancing complications but animal exhibits and livestock attractions will still be featured in this year’s fair. 

Masks must also be worn on rides, and can only be removed at designated food and beverage areas. These areas are intended to be placed around the fair, preventing guests from constantly taking off their masks at any location to eat or drink during the event. 

“There is an entertainment deprivation in the community,” said Richards. 

The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 caused the OC Fair along with music events to be cancelled last year for the first time since 1890, according to a timeline of the corporation on the OCFEC website

Concerts at the Pacific Amphitheatre and at The Hangar that won’t be held during the course of the set fair dates due to COVID-19 will be planned to take place during the fall and tickets will be refunded to those who plan on attending. Certain rides and food vendors have a possibility of remaining at the fairgrounds if show dates are pushed back. Shows at the two amenities begin July 10 and tickets can be located on the Pacific Ampitheatre and The Hangar’s webpages. 

“We’re anticipating selling at the yellow tier level, because we’re predicted to be in that tier soon which would be 67%,” Richards said. This will be approximately over half of the normal occupation for concerts, aligning with Orange County’s projected colored tier regulations. 

“So we feel that we have the information we need to move forward, knowing that as we move through the color tiers and specifically into the green tier that those guidelines will loosen up even more,” Richards said.

The fairgrounds is currently operating a vaccination site on the premises, and estimates about 2,000 vaccinations to be executed per day, according to an article published in the OC Register. 

“The county has reported that by the end of May, the vaccine effort will transform from county super sites to local healthcare providers and pharmacies,” Richards said. 

OCFEC can’t mandate proof of vaccinations from guests, but the company is pushing for more attendees to get vaccinated in their soon-to-come informational campaign on health and safety. 

The advanced, alternate dates will be taken into greater consideration if OC’s trend of declining COVID-19 cases happens to spike by their April 30 re-evaluation deadline. 

Interviews for working the fair will be held digitally over Zoom, and the OCFEC team is creating an app for workers that will include easy access to information with less contact. 


“It is time for fun, don't you think?” Richards said. 

The board will make more information available regarding layout and programming within the next couple months.

General information regarding the upcoming fair and other events set to take place on the fairgrounds is located on the OCFEC website.

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