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Shortly after Orange County was created in 1889, the Orange County Community Fair Corporation was formed. This group put on a small fair in 1890 that included a horse race and a few exhibits in Santa Ana. In 1894, another group, the Orange County Fair Association, Inc., took over the organization of the Fair.

The first Orange County Fairs were primarily livestock exhibitions and horse races. At the turn of the century, a "carnival of products" was added and the Fair became an annual event. In ensuing years, the Fair was held in Santa Ana, but after World War I it was moved to Huntington Beach for two years and then back to temporary grounds on East Fruit Street in Santa Ana.

In 1916, the Fair was taken over by the newly organized Orange County Farm Bureau. The first OC Fair Board was elected in 1925 and the Fair relocated to Anaheim, across the street from the Orange County Hospital. In 1925, a rodeo and carnival were added to the Fair.


After World War II, the state formed the 32nd District Agricultural Association and made it responsible for the Fair. The state then purchased land occupied by the Santa Ana Army Air Base and some of it was earmarked for a new fairground. The Fair was first held at the new site in 1949 and it soon was designated as the permanent Fairgrounds. In 1953, the City of Costa Mesa was incorporated - the new city included the Fair's location. From 1949 to the present, the OC Fair has grown from a small, community, five-day celebration to a 23-day festival that is one of Orange County's most eagerly awaited annual events.

Past 10 Years: Themes and Attendance
2011 "Let's Eat!"
1,400,280
2010 "The Beat Goes On"
1,154,969
2009 "Think. Big. "
1,072,018
2008 "Say Cheese"
1,062,673
2007 "Cowabunga! - The Year of Herefords, Surfers & Sand"
1,090,653
2006 "Flower Power - Year of the Garden"
924,315
2005 "It's Callin' You Out To Play," the year of the avocado
1,058,192
2004 "Jammin' at the Fair - the Year of the Grape," a salute to grapes
963,984
2003 "Red, Ripe and Rockin' - the Year of the Tomato," a salute to tomatoes
881,596
2002 "Leap Into the Fair - We're Making a Big Splash," a salute to water
898,197

 

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