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OC Fair & Event Center
OC Fair receives industry honor for community programs
COSTA MESA, CA – The OC Fair & Event Center has been honored by the Western Fairs Association for two of its community programs, Friends of the Fair and We Care Wednesdays. The association’s Merrill Award recognizes outstanding innovation, vision and excellence in the fair industry. The fair also received 17 annual Achievement Awards from the organization.
The Friends of the Fair program provides a free, private fair experience each summer for guests with special needs. The event is held in the morning before the fair officially opens and guests enjoy carnival rides, interactive experiences with first responders and visits to livestock areas. In 2016, a record 10,188 people participated in the program that was launched in 1989.
“The OC Fair welcomes more than 1.3 million visitors each summer, but visiting the fair is not necessarily an easy task for everyone, which is why we created this opportunity for all individuals to access and enjoy the fun of the fair,” said OC Fair & Event Center CEO Kathy Kramer. “Friends of the Fair and We Care Wednesdays were specifically developed to give back to the community and together these two events have served more than a half million guests over the years.”
Without the usual number of fair visitors on site, Friends of the Fair guests with wheelchairs and other assistance devices can more easily enjoy the attractions. The number of people at the event is limited so those with anxiety can also enjoy the experience at their own pace.
Thanks to a partnership with Ray Cammak Shows, Friends of the Fair guests have fun on low-impact midway rides that might otherwise be difficult for them to enjoy. Employees of the carnival company arrive early to operate the rides and assist participants.
During their visit, guests tour Centennial Farm to learn about fruits and vegetables and see the resident farm animals. They also explore the competitive livestock area and petting zoo. Local first responders, including the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Costa Mesa Fire Department, have partnered with the fair to showcase their ground and air vehicles and allow guests to take pictures from the driver’s seat.
On We Care Wednesdays, guests receive free fair admission and one complimentary carnival ride in exchange for bringing donations for partnering nonprofit organizations. The donations support a different nonprofit every Wednesday during the run of the fair.
In 2016, the We Care Wednesdays program provided 28 tons of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank, more than 56,000 new and used books to Share Ourselves, some 37,000 pounds of clothing to Goodwill Industries and more than 150,000 school supplies to Think Together to assist low-income children.
The popular We Care Wednesdays program, launched in 1998, attracts more than 20,000 people each week and benefits the local community. Every three years nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to apply to become a We Care Wednesdays partner.
The Merrill Award was named in honor of Western Fairs Association Founder, Louis Merrill, and was presented at the association’s recent conference in Reno, Nev. The OC Fair previously received the award in 2002, 1993, 1989 and 1985.
The OC Fair & Event Center also received 17 annual Achievement Awards from the organization including eight first-place honors. The Achievement Awards recognize excellence and offer association members the opportunity to share successful ideas and programs.
The 2017 OC Fair will open on July 14 and run through Aug. 13. This Year’s theme is Farm Fresh Fun.
The OC Fair & Event Center is located off the 405 and 55 freeways at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. For more information, please visit ocfair.com, become a fan on Facebook.com/OCFair, follow us at twitter.com/ocfair or call (714) 708-1500.
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