COSTA MESA, Calif. – Orange County will be missing its summer staple. On Monday, the Orange County Fair became the latest, upcoming, yearly event to be cancelled due to concerns around the coronavirus.
It’s Michele Richards’ nineteenth year with the Fair and would have her first year as CEO. Instead she and the OC Fair & Event Board of Directors announced the decision, as it’s unclear when bans on large events will be lifted.
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“On the one hand, very tough decision because of what the fair means to all of us as a community and the amount of businesses that are involved with the fair, those that count on the fair for their livelihood, for their summer jobs. But on the other hand, a really easy decision because it’s all about community health and safety,” Richards says.
The OC Fair has been one of the most enduring traditions in county since 1890, and the only other time it’s been cancelled in the last 130 years was during WWII. But the pandemic has limited any gatherings, and the fair typically welcomes 1.3 million fairgoers in its 23 days.
The estimated economic impact of $350 million in annual revenue, is a huge blow to the county and to those people who rely on the fair for their livelihoods, like vendors. Richards hopes they can rally around each other in this unprecedented situation.
“The fair could not happen without them, we’ll certainly miss them. They are our colleagues and friends, and not having the fair this year is obviously a blow to everybody. But I want everybody to focus on moving forward. So I asked them to do their part by staying safe. And the OC Fair will do its part by trying to bring as much of the fair to our guests as possible,” Richards says.
And that’s where Richards is hoping all is not lost. She and her team have a list of virtual fair concepts like contests, entertainment, and even takeout food and drink options. They are hoping they can bring even some small part of the fair experience home.
“I have been telling everyone, we can be sad about the OC Fair 2020 not taking place but only for about the next half hour because e have work to do. Everyone is going to switch their focus on moving forward and developing those plans that as the restrictions are eased and we’re able to bring back events, even in small way - we will be there for the community,” says Richards.
Fairgoers might feel stuck at home, but everyone is safer at home.
Information on refunds can be found at ocfair.com/refunds.