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California Fairs Look for "Fair Weather" in 2021

The OC Fair will Take Place in 2021
With restrictions and modifications, the OC Fair go on in 2021.

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As California moves into low pandemic numbers and strong vaccination rates that means a number of county fairs are ready to spin their Ferris Wheels in 2021.

The Orange County Fair will be back in full swing July 16-August 15th at its Costa Mesa fairgrounds. With a theme of “Time for Fun,” fair board chairman Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia says fair officials are working with public health agencies to develop safety protocols in line with state guidelines.

 “This milestone will allow the community to come together to celebrate the future and generate much-needed opportunities for economic development and growth in Orange County,” she says.

The fair will offer a full component of fair ingredients: carnival rides, fair food, musical entertainment, livestock, and competitions. Advance ticket sales are required and limited capacity numbers set in place; in addition, the number of concessions, rides, and shopping vendors will be reduced in number, and spread out in placement to allow more social distancing.

Tickets will go on sale at the fair's website beginning May 1st, and prices will be set at the rates from 2019, with adult pricing of $12 general admission and $7 for children and seniors on weekdays and $14 general admission and $7 for children and seniors on weekends. The fair will not be open Mondays and Tuesdays.

According to OC Fair and Event Center CEO Michele Richards, “We have worked through many different scenarios for the 2021 OC Fair and we are so excited to move forward with this plan.” She adds that she hopes attendees will choose to get vaccinated prior to attending the fair.

In northern California, the Placerville County Fair is looking forward to welcoming guests this summer. The fair opens June 24-27 in Roseville, CA. This year's theme will be “Mooving Forward Together.” While specific plans are yet to be in place, the celebration will be geared to the region, and the hope is that the fair can be particularly fun after staying shuttered last year.  

The fair will include carnival rides, concerts, and livestock exhibits among other events.

The more expansive California Mid-State Fair, located in Paso Robles will also run this year, in a 12 day celebration that will include carnival rides. Admission will be $5 - $10, and the fair will be open from 12 p.m. to midnight all days. Specifics are pending, according to fair spokesperson Tom Keffury. “Safety is our first priority…we are very confident that San Luis Obispo County is ready to get back to carnival rides, livestock, exhibits, corn dogs, live music and cold beer.” On the fair's Twitter account, March 29th, the fair proclaimed “California's Biggest Little Fair Anywhere will be back for 2021!”

The San Bernadino County Fair just announced that it will be returning to action in 2021.  The fair will run for three weekends starting May 29 through June 13.  The fair will feature grounds entertainment, plenty of fair foods, agriculture, and a carnival midway from Helm and Sons Amusements.  The fair will require require admission tickets to be purchased in advance and all paid admissions will include unlimited carnival rides, a new policy for 2021.

The Marin County fair will feature both a drive through and virtual components July 2 through 4. Fair spokespersons say the fair will “still celebrate…art, agriculture, and community.” The drive-through is planned to include a fair food event, plus special events for the 4th of July.

The Santa Barbara county fair usually held at the Santa Maria Fairpark is also keeping things virtual. The Livestock committee will hold their action and show virtually July 14 through 18, and only for large livestock including beef, sheep, pigs, and goats. 

Things are still uncertain for the Los Angeles County Fair, which is typically a large-scale event attracting approximately 1.2 million attendees and held at the LA County Fairgrounds in Pomona. But due to pandemic uncertainly the fair is planning a smaller celebration, announcing that it would be “fiscally unfeasible to plan a grand celebration.” Last year the fair did not run at any size or capacity. The site is currently being used as a major megapod COVID-19 vaccination site.

While plans are still being finalized, fair fans can view past LA County Fair memories online as well as shop fair vendors through an extensive online link. When in-person plans are final, it will undoubtedly include fair food, at least in a drive-through format.

The California State Fair, located in Sacramento, is also at present still in limbo, with the site being used as a mass vaccination site. It has not been officially canceled or scheduled as a virtual event, however.

Already cancelled: The Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival, scheduled this past February, did not run this year. “The Riverside County Fairgrounds are known not only as the home of our beloved Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival, but as a focal point and safe haven for the community when it comes to accessing health care and, today, they are being utilized in another health care mission to help us overcome the coronavirus,” board chairman V. Manuel Perez said in a statement. Riverside County Fair Advisory Board Chairman, Lupe Ramos-Amith added, “It was a difficult decision to cancel, but with the uncertainty of how long the fairgrounds will be used as a testing center and back up hospital, it was one that had to be made.” The fair will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2022.

The Ventura County Fair is also a no-go, according to Leslie Cornejo, president of the Ventura County Fair Board, who stated that the event wasn't included in the fair board's budget for this year. “There's never been an official cancellation because we never calendared it."

The site is currently being used for drive-through concerts, holiday events and other entertainment activities that can be enjoyed from the car, however, including most recently a Reggae concert, and an Easter bunny celebration.
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