The Orange County Fairgrounds on Nov. 11 will host a Veterans Day event billed as the county's largest in recent memory.

Veterans groups and various labor unions — including the Orange County Employees Assn. and California Labor Federation — are organizing the free event at the state-owned property in Costa Mesa.

The festivities at the fairgrounds, 88 Fair Drive, run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include live music, entertainment, information booths and free hot dogs. Parking is also free.

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"I think this is the first time that so many different veterans groups, veterans support groups — everybody — are coming together to say thank you," said Nick Berardino, OCEA's general manager. "I have never seen a Veterans Day event like this."

An opening ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

In the afternoon, the U.S. Postal Service will have its West Coast unveiling of a new stamp depicting the Medal of Honor. Teachers will be also on hand to help children send care packages and write thank-you notes and holiday cards for service members in hospitals and overseas.

Berardino, a Vietnam-era Marine veteran who also serves on the Orange County Fair Board, said such notes are particularly coveted by their recipients.

"What a wonderful opportunity for parents to bring their children to write a card to say thank you," he said. "And I know, when I was in Vietnam, when we used to get that stuff you would see battle-tested, hardened Marines with tears rolling down their face. It just is so meaningful."

Other festivities include the donation of wheelchairs to veterans and a motorcycle ride.

Riders are expected to begin assembling about 10:30 a.m. at the Orange County Labor Federation's headquarters, 309 N. Rampart St., Orange, and arrive at the fairgrounds by noon.

The event coincides with Veterans + Labor: Partners in Service, a union-sponsored project that helps veterans with job assistance.

For more information, visit or contact Carina Franck-Pantone at (714) 675-3653.


If You Go

What: A Veterans Day celebration at the Orange County Fairgrounds

Where: OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday

How much: Admission and parking are free

For more information: Visit or contact Carina Franck-Pantone at (714) 675-3653