Date night at the OC Fair
COSTA MESA – A date night at the OC Fair is exciting, includes deliciously indulgent eats and can be fun for all-ages.
Cost is always a huge factor on where a date may – or may not – take place. Depending on how it's planned out, a night out at the fair could be pricey, but if budgeted accordingly, can still be a blast.
Alan and Shelly Cummins of Fullerton, for example, received free fair admission on Aug. 3 by bringing a donation of clothing. Wednesdays at the fair are "We Care Wednesdays" in which fair-goers can make donations and receive free admission and parking in return.
The OC Fair offers various promotions and discounts on certain dates and times, but without those on your chosen date night, admission and parking can cost anywhere from $23-$34 for two people just to get in the gate. A few of the couples spending time at the fair Wednesday evening said that the price was reasonable and about what would normally be spent on dates elsewhere.
If you're on a budget, there are plenty of free events, exhibits and entertainment inside. The daily schedule varies, but some ongoing free events include ice carving performances, Peking acrobats, comedy hypnotist Mark Yuzuik, dueling pianos and the magic of Frank Thurston.
You and your date can also stroll hand-in-hand through some exhibits, including the Ice Museum, featuring works of art rendered entirely in ice. You can also check out "Beauty and the Feast," a duel celebration of 100 years of the Fair Queen Pageant and delicious fair food; or the Budweiser Clydesdale Exhibit and Parade, which features historical information and a Q&A session with the Clydesdale handlers.
There are also classic fair staples to experience, such as the Russell Bros. Circus, the All-Alaskan Pig Races and the Knott's Berry Farm Pie Eating Contest.
Tickets for concerts at The Hanger run anywhere from $12.50-$20, but there's a decent view simply standing just outside the venue, which is what Carla Wiesmuller and David Marquis from Anaheim did during their date. They came out Wednesday night to catch a glimpse of Purple Reign, the Prince Tribute show.
Add on to your budget date by meandering over to the Courtyard to sample wine from the OC Fair wine competition, where $3 buys two one-ounce tastes. Wines that don't win awards can be purchased by the glass for $6 for six ounces or check out the Express Bar from 5-9 p.m. where $8 buys eight ounces. Attend the fair on a weekend and wine tasting seminars in the Courtyard are free.
In the mood to really splurge? Go the whole nine yards and indulge in some of the fair's unique cuisine, rides and, of course, carnival-style games.
Food prices vary, but something basic, like two corn dogs, two beers and a funnel cake, will run you $30-$40. Since the theme this year is "Let's Eat," food options run the gamut: Hot dogs, corn dogs, burgers, char-broiled corn, pizza, tri-tip, pulled pork sandwiches, Australian battered potatoes, sushi, ice cream, crepes and, of course, famous fried foods like Twinkies, Klondike Bars, Oreos, Snickers and Kool-Aid.
One couple, Ryan Sanford from Newport Beach and Drew Bazanc from Huntington Beach, shared a funnel cake and beer for dinner, that Bazanc said "ran them into the ground," since it put them out about another $20.
Some couples hit up a few of the rides and played games, spending a little extra – anywhere from $5-$100 for ticket packages – for the thrill. Couples on this night got a bit of a break by purchasing unlimited ride wristbands for $25 — available every Wednesday and Thursday until 5 p.m. The wristbands are valid until 8 p.m. on these evenings. Games and rides are also $2 a pop on Wednesdays-Fridays.
If there's one ride on your date agenda, be sure to hit the Ferris wheel. It's a fair date must, especially at night. The couples we ran into agreed that a ride on the Ferris wheel is the perfect place to cozy up and sneak a kiss.
The OC Fair runs Wednesdays-Sundays through Aug. 14.