The Orange County Fair will be plumping up its traditional deep-fried menu this year, adding a rotation of gourmet food trucks and celebrity chefs to the mix as part of the 2011 theme "Let's Eat!"
OC Fair President and Chief Executive Steve Beazley said the county fair, which opens Friday at the O.C. Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, aims to embrace tradition while sprinkling in just enough new attractions to keep it fun for visitors who go each summer.
"There's nothing that beats the tradition of coming out to the fair and eating something," he said. "'Let's eat!' is a call to action. The whole idea of eating, dining, feasting is really what most of our traditions center around."
On top of traditional fair fare in the form of funnel cakes, corn dogs and deep-fried Oreos, the 2011 edition will introduce new items on a smorgasbord pushing the envelope on deep-fried eating experiences. Thanks to fair fixture Chicken Charlie, whose taste buds appear to have no bounds, fairgoers can sample deep-fried Kool-Aid, deep-fried brownies and deep-fried Girl Scout cookies.
And for the more refined palate, visitors who come on Thursdays can check out food trucks like SlapFish, which offers sustainable seafood, and Baconmania, which serves what it calls "unabashedly American, unapologetic man-food."
Also on Thursdays, celebrity chefs like "Ace of Cakes" baker Duff Goldman and "Top Chef" winner Michael Voltaggio will make appearances. On Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., fair-food samples will go for $2.
In addition to the eats, the usual carnival rides, games and exhibits with everything from fine art to farm animals, the fair will also introduce a 1,500-square-foot ice sculpture museum and an arena where extreme athletes will do stunts on pogo sticks.
At the Pacific Amphitheatre, the fair will host musicians ranging from Bob Dylan to Chicago. Beazley said the two acts planned for the kid- and tween-audience — Selena Gomez and Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush — are en route to be the highest-selling shows in the fair's history. Each show is expected to sell more than 10,000 tickets, Beazley said.
The O.C. Fair starts Friday and runs for 23 days and nights through Aug. 14. It is open Wednesdays to Fridays, from noon to midnight, and weekends, from 10 a.m. to midnight.
General admission is $11, senior tickets cost $8, kids tickets are $6 and children under 6 get in free. Parking costs $7.
On weekends, the "rise and shine" promotion lets everyone get in for $2 each before 11 a.m. For more information and to purchase concert tickets, visit ocfair.com.