COSTA MESA, Calif. — The sights and sounds of the historic Orange County Fair are important to Michele Richards, but safety is what’s on top of her mind.

“It just seems like the right thing to do by bringing in a vaccination clinic right there at the OC Fair,” said Richards, CEO of the OC Fair and Event Center.

What You Need To Know

  • The OC Fair invited the OC Health Care Agency to bring a COVID-19 vaccination site to its annual event this year

  • The health care team was able to help up to 100 patients per day

  • The fair is in its last sold-out weekend

  • The OC Fair team has received an accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Richards and her team to pivot to virtual last year. With events on hold due to the virus, their team supported the county’s fight against the coronavirus by hosting food distributions and preventing the spread.

“We opened pretty early as a COVID testing site and then eventually opened as one of the county’s super POD vaccination sites,” said Richards.

With just 58% of county residents having been fully vaccinated against the virus in July, Richards asked the OC Health Care Agency to open a vaccination booth inside the fairground. This gives the agency a chance to connect with hundreds of thousands of fair guests.

When the fair opened in mid-July, the county had about 300 positive COVID-19 cases. However, as the fair wrapped up this weekend, the county reported 933 cases, which serves as a reminder that the pandemic isn’t over.

To prevent more cases, Richards says her team has followed CDC, state and county health department guidelines to help bring a safe and fun fair to OC.

"We’re very proud that we worked for and we received the Global Biorisk Advisory Council Star Facility Awards," said Richards. "Our certification proves that our team has been properly trained, and that our protocols can handle the situation we’re dealing with right now."

After canceling an in-person fair last year, Richards says opening day was an emotional day for everyone.

“You can imagine just the overwhelming joy that we all felt when the gates opened on opening day, and we felt like the community felt the same way we did,” she said.

The OC Fair is celebrating its last week with a sold-out weekend. Richard says inviting the health care agency to set up a booth was her way of helping the county reach herd immunity so that guests have a shot at an even more memorable fair visit next year.