Tag Archives: OC Fair

County Fair-Pocalypse

On Thursday I took the day off from work and we went to the Orange County Fair. It was a particularly bizarre visit because Costa Mesa was beneath the smoke plume from the Holy Fire (so named because it started in Holy Jim Canyon) burning in the Santa Ana mountains.

The sky, except for clear blue patches to the west and south, was a yellowish brown. The sunlight was dim and yellow.

[Looking up at a log ride against clouds of brownish smoke.]

When we arrived, the entire ticket sales system was down. All the booths. All the self-serve kiosks. You couldn’t buy tickets for any of the rides, unless you could find one of the wandering cash-only ticket sellers, roaming the fair like quest-giver NPCs.

[Looking up at a Ferris Wheel against clouds of yellowish-brown smoke.]

We did eventually find someone who could sell us tickets. At that point, the sun emerged briefly through a break in the smoke. The deep red-orange disc was dim enough to look at comfortably, and lit up the fissures in the cloud a lurid red.

[Crowds at the fair, and rides, with smoke above and some blue sky in the distance.]

Fair food keeps getting more and more outrageous. Deep fried Twinkie dogs and Zucchini Weenies have been joined by triple-decker donut burgers, chicken-in-a-waffle-on-a-stick, and the donut chicken and ice cream sandwich. But for sheer “because we can” ridiculousness: deep-fried filet mignon. What a waste.

[Food stand selling fried...everything.]

It was early evening by the time we left, and as we walked to the gate closest to where we’d parked, we saw a bright orange line in the distance. Was it the glow of the flames behind the mountain? Or the flames themselves on top of the ridge? We were too far away to tell. But that line shimmered, and we watched a deeper orange glow appear and fade behind another part of the ridge. It’s hard to be sure, but I think it might be burning in the valley between the two peaks of Saddleback.

[Night view: Mostly black, with an orange line silhouetting the edge of a mountain.]

Deep Fried WHAT???? A Night at the Fair with Al’s Brain, Melissa Etheridge and a Ferris Wheel

We went to the Orange County Fair on Saturday afternoon. Most years we end up going to at least one of the Pacific Amphitheater’s summer concert series, which includes fair admission, so we just combine it into one trip. This year it was Melissa Etheridge, and we also had another goal: Al’s Brain.

We started by grabbing some water and (in my case) a chocolate milkshake (because I wanted some ice cream, dangit! and drinkable made it easier), then wandered through the arts and crafts displays, where they showed prize-winning jewelry, crochet, display models, dresses, origami, etc.

Al’s Brain

Then we made our way to the back of the fair, where they had set up a portable theater for Al’s Brain (in 3-D!). There was a huge sand sculpture out front of “Weird Al” Yankovic holding out a brain in his hand. An animated question mark and exclamation point would occasionally pop out the top of his head, and smoke would pour from his ears.

“Weird Al” has actually had a long association with the Orange County Fair, often doing free concerts on multiple nights during the run. We’ve seen him there at least twice, possibly three times. One year there was a “Weird Al” museum of sorts. This year, he got involved in a short 3-D educational film (comedic, of course) about the brain.

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The Weird…

Weird Al Yankovic: Straight Outta Lynwood album coverLast night we went out to the Orange County Fair to see “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert (the Straight Outta Lynwood Tour). I don’t remember how we managed it, but we got tickets for the fifth row, putting us about 10 feet from the stage. We were off to the side, maybe 20–30 feet from Al’s microphone, but still, it was the closest we’d ever been at a stadium concert.

(Being off to the side put us right by the speakers, which was an odd experience, as the drum beats resonated at the frequency of the human ribcage. On percussion-heavy songs, it was sort of like having an audio pacemaker.)

As always, he put on a fun show. If you haven’t seen him in concert before, all the major songs are done in full costume, with comedic video clips (mostly from his mid-1990s TV show) running between sets to allow time for costume changes. In the middle of the show, he always does a medley of other songs, just to get as much in as possible into a 2-hour concert.

As for being near the front, thankfully he didn’t come to our section for the audience-walk during “Wanna B Ur Lovr,” (a truly annoying song). We did get covered with red and white streamers at the end of “Canadian Idiot,” and (speaking of Monopoly money) fake $100 during “I’ll Sue Ya.”

$100 bill, Weird Al style.

One surprise: A couple of minutes into “White and Nerdy,” he suddenly stopped, said, “There’s no reason to do this song. Radio, Radio”—and the band proceeded to do a straight cover of Elvis Costello’s “Radio, Radio.” During the encore, he explained they’d had some technical difficulties, and did the song from the beginning (though without the costumes and the Segway).

Another surprise: He performed “Albuquerque.” All 10 minutes of it. *shudder*

After the concert we explored the fair a bit, then left to go to Borders to pick up Harry Potter, leading to the second part of this story…

For now, I’ll leave you with this final thought: We all have cell phones, so come on, let’s get real.