A Plant Lovers Guide To “Feel The Sunshine” At The OC Fair!

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The OC Fair is back in town and bringing with it, as always, a love of gardening. This year’s theme for the fair is called “Feel the Sunshine” and runs now through August 14, 2022.

 


My family visits the Orange County Fair every year and when we go, we want to make sure we get to see and do allll the things. The kids love the rides, Great American Petting Farm, and All-Alaskan Racing Pigs. My husband loves the Demolition Derby and the people watching. And I love the gardens and exhibits.

There is something for everyone at the OC Fair and most especially for plant lovers.

We went on opening weekend and here are some great plant related offerings I found this year:


We started by checking out the livestock and gardening areas of the Centennial Farm. I love seeing the baby animals, this time they had lambs and piglets that were adorable.

While the kids were amazed by the animals, I perused Centennial Farm, where they grow lots of different foods. They are always growing different crops and varieties and actually offer tours throughout the year, including Junior Farmer Tours and Discovery Days.


The Centennial Farm is a three-acre year-round working farm. They focus on agricultural education and you can learn a ton about our area and agriculture in our state.



They have cow milking (and even camel milking!) demonstrations, and a whole section on beekeeping where the OC beekeepers can help you learn about how important bees are and of course sell their honey. This year they have signs spread throughout the fair with agriculture facts to check out.

At the Millennium Barn, the OC Connection area has government agencies and non-profits helping the community with lots of information. This year, I am learning edible gardening so I needed some advice. I had a good time chatting with the volunteer from UCCE Master Gardeners of OC about my vegetable and fruit gardening questions. They were very helpful! Scan the QR code in the photo below if you would like to ask them questions also!

There was a cool competition for container plants near here, where you could check out people’s prized specimens as part of the OC Fair.

The OC Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers (founded in 1968) also had a stand with volunteers helping people with their questions on growing at home.

 

One of our favorite things to do at the OC Fair as a family is to go in and feed the butterflies at the SkyRiver Butterfly exhibit.

Can you spot the butterflies?

For $5 or less, you can go in with a cotton swab soaked with butterfly food (sugar water) and feed all of the butterflies for around 10 minutes. There are flower pots here and there and butterflies all around you (watch where you step). My kids LOVE doing this as we raise Monarchs every year so they know about the lifecycle and there are lots of different kinds in this exhibit.

From big Blue Morpho Butterflies to small Glasswings, it is fun to see where they land. Some land on hats and some on legs, and it’s fun for people to collect the ones they like and gently put them on themselves for photos. Two Monarchs were mating on my son’s shirt. The littles are all so wide eyed and amazed by these special creatures.

The butterfly exhibit is simply a must when you visit the OC Fair.

 

The California Fresh Exhibit: Celebrating the Bounty of our County is such a fun spot to walk through.

There are many super cute selfie photo opps right when you walk into the OC Promenade.

This exhibit highlights California’s various specialty crops and offers many educational demos showcasing chefs cooking with locally sourced produce and experts lecturing about the nutrition of crops grown in our state’s 58 counties. The OC Fair website says it was part of the California Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and it’s been touring since last year.

 

The Explorium: Explore Fun At The Farm is also in the OC Promenade section of the OC Fair and a great area for the littles.

There is a large child’s sand pit and play area located here. One of my boys’ favorite spots every year. Visiting this exhibit is fun for the whole family and you will come away with knowledge on crops used for food, landscaping, and even for medicine while the kids may have just a little less energy.

 

The OC Fair always offers ways to save money during your visit.

The deals they offer online this year include:

  • Unlimited ride wristbands (including two free rides).
  • Read & Ride program for youth only. This gives you 2 free rides in the Kidland Carnival if you read 3 books and write a short summary (kids 5 and under can draw pictures). Form on website.
  • On Thursdays 11am-4pm they offer $4 food samples.


If you’re looking to buy admission tickets, there is no transaction fees online but advanced tickets are required. No free days or passes this year, thanks to COVID. Ticket prices here.

 

Here are some fun activities and free OC Fair printables.

There are puzzles, word searches, activity booklets, lots of fun educational resources offered by Centennial Farm. Aaaand who can pass up the Pig Cam?

 

Hope you can make it to the OC Fair this year!  

A Plant Lovers Guide To Feel The Sunshine At The OC Fair! PIN

4 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! You are so informative. Thank you for the tips on free rides earned by reading books and writing a summary. I cannot wait to visit now that I’m more aware of things my family and I can enjoy. I love butterflies and agriculture also, so I will definitely be exploring the plants and barn area.

  2. Loved the photos especially of the glass winged butterfly! So beautiful. Can’t wait to visit the fair and explore ☺️

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