COSTA MESA (FOX 11 / CNS) - The 127th annual Orange County Fair will begin Friday in Costa Mesa, featuring calorie busters like the Krispy Kreme Ice Cream Chicken Sandwich and Flaming Hot Cheetos Pizza, a gigantic Ferris wheel and later start times during the week.
The fair, featuring a "Farm Fresh Fun'' theme, will kick off at noon, but this year the early-bird guests will get free admission for the first three hours, instead of just the first hour.
"We've got some great new promotions happening at the OC Fair this year, starting with opening day's 'Free till Three,' '' said Kathy Kramer, chief executive of the fair. Fairgoers will get a break on admission and parking until 3 p.m.
Weekends will offer the "Best Deal Ever'' with fairgoers getting half-price admission from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Carnival rides are half-price as well during those hours. But unlike past years when the fair opened at 10 a.m. on
weekends, the gates will open an hour later.
Food will again be one of the more popular draws, Kramer said.
This year's diet-challenging delicacies include bacon-wrapped Brussels sprouts, fried peanut butter meatballs, fried octopus on a stick, and deep-fried ravioli on a stick, Kramer said.
"It's got to be better on a stick, right?'' Kramer said. "It's your one time of the year to splurge. You can diet the rest of the year.''
The Krispy Kreme treat features chicken breast, a scoop of ice cream and two donuts as a bun, Kramer said.
"My goal this year is to be the same weight after the fair as I was before the fair,'' she said with a laugh.
This will be the first fair showcasing the Heroes Hall on the fairgrounds, Kramer noted. Fairgoers will get a chance to write letters and postcards for service members, she said.
On the carnival side of the fair, the new Le Grande Wheel XL will offer a Ferris wheel experience with air-conditioned cabs that are all glass so you can see Orange County from every angle, Kramer said. The Ferris wheel is so large it needed 22 semi-trailer trucks to get it to Costa Mesa.
The 36 cabins hold six to eight people. It is 130 feet high, weighs 616,000 pounds and has 500,000 LED lights. It is one of the largest in the world.
Not to be outdone, the fair also features the Big Wheel, which is 108 feet high and has 24 open-air gondolas.
Then there's the Endeavor, which offers thrill seekers the experience of 3G acceleration, being thrust 60 feet in the air at 25 mph, Kramer said.
At the Pacific Amphitheatre, highlights include country singer- songwriter Jake Owen, who will be making his debut at the fair Aug. 13, Kramer said.
Fair favorites, the B-52s will also perform, but this time backed by the Pacific Symphony, on July 20.
"Imagine the energy and unique beat of the B52s with the background of the Pacific Symphony,'' Kramer said. "I think that's going to be a great concert. I can't wait to peek in on that one.''
Another new feature will include the "pig cam,'' a live-streaming of the animals on the fair's website.
"It's pretty darned cute watching them play and have fun,'' Kramer said.
At the action sports area of the fairgrounds, guests can watch medieval-style jousting July 19-23.
Kramer also plugged the Orange County Transportation Authority's Fair Express bus shuttle service.
"It's really the best way to get to the fair,'' she said. "There are nine locations throughout Orange County. It's truly a fantastic deal -- $2 each way and you get a coupon for $3 for admission. Leave the driving to someone else.''
The shuttles run regularly, she said.
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