Your inside guide to the fun and fare of the Fair…

Last week, I left the OC Fair the proud owner of a 1200-pound steer and a 270-pound pig. No, I didn’t make an impossible basketball shot and win them on the Midway. I was a proud bidder at the annual Junior Livestock Auction.

Former CEO Doug Lofstrom and Ashleigh Aitken

The Junior Livestock Auction is little known to those outside the OC Fair and 4-H/FFA world, but it is one of my favorite days at the Fair. Kids from all around Orange County exhibit their award-winning market swine, broilers, calves, goats, beef, rabbits, lamb and turkeys in hopes of recouping their expenses for raising these amazing animals and raising funds for their future projects. I am not expert at the auction, but in the last three years I have learned a few things:

  • First, DO NOT bring your kids to the livestock auction. I have made that mistake. Nothing is worse than having your kids meet a pig or a lamb, and ask when it can come home and live in the backyard. It is quite awkward to explain to kids that the pig is coming home, but carved up in pieces and heading straight to the deep freezer.
  • Second, forget about trying to understand what the auctioneer is saying. My first year, I bid on a lamb. The auctioneer spoke so fast, I thought he was speaking in tongues and I wondered if I’d wandered into the OC Fair Revival tent. I knew the amount of my last bid, but when he started pointing at me I got nervous and big again. Against myself. I know it was for a good cause, but that was annoying. If they want you to bid up, they will make it obvious.
  • Third, remember the wonderful Orange County youth you are supporting. It is easy to focus on how delicious and organic the product is. I have also had several people ask if you save money versus buying the animal pre-packaged at the store. The real beauty and value of the Livestock Auction is meeting the young 4-H and Future Farmers members, and talking to them about how hard they have worked to raise the animal and their plans for using any excess funds recouped for school. The kids are so appreciative of the bidder’s support. And you get a picture with your new friend/entrée!
  • Last, if you are a horrified vegetarian, you can donate! Many people buy the animals and donate the money back to the livestock program, or donate them to the OC Fair’s Centennial Farm. If they live on Centennial Farm, you can visit your new friend year round! Donate to the Centennial Farm Auction program today.

 Last year, my husband Michael banned me from the Carnival of Products. It may have something to do with the beautiful outdoor island and built-in BBQ I purchased from KoKoMo Grills. (Come on, the Caribbean BBQ Island seats 6, has a BBQ and kegerator, and beverage refrigerator!) This year, with Michael as my chaperone, we hit the Carnival on our Friday night date night. Let’s just say he found a product or two as well.


It may have been our indulgence in the award-winning wines from the OC Wine Society, but we found several things we did not even know we needed. From extra-long USB cords, a new cleaning mop, to my jogging accessories, let’s just say we did pretty well. And have you seen Director Bagneris and her light-up sneakers? Purchased in the Carnival of Products. The Carnival sucks you in, but it is a great way to spend a hot afternoon or chilly evening. It will not disappoint.

Ashleigh Aitken is a plaintiff trial lawyer at Aitken Aitken Cohn in Santa Ana. She was appointed to the OC Fair Board in 2012 and reappointed in 2016. After incessantly speaking about the Fair and reciting random Fair facts, her brother dubbed her the Queen of the Fair.

Editors Note: Ashleigh Aitken is the daughter of Wylie Aitken, Voice of OC’s board chairman and a donor to the organization.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

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