BEFORE YOUR FRIED DOUGH: No one would ever say that going to a county fair should be anything but a carefree existence. You want to show up, find easy parking, get in the gate without too much lingering, and then head straight for the funnel cake stand, or the nosh stand of your choice. Not over-thinking stuff is what, in large part, makes a county fair so sweet. But scoring a deal or discount or free admission to a fair does require a bit of planning, or at least thinking-ahead-ness, which makes the fact that the county fairs of Southern California release their deals, discounts, and special days ahead of time so very helpful. And the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, which opens for its month-long run on July 17, has just done just that. Ready to round up your pals and get them booked on the best cash-saving days?
OPENING DAY: The 2015 debut day of the fair comes with one of the biggest deals, which is get in for free (hard to think of something that qualifies as a bigger deal than that). The thing to know? You'll need to be at the OC Fair & Event Center on Friday, July 17. It's the Opening Day Free Hour, and it happens right at opening, from noon to 1 o'clock. Not only is admission free but parking is gratis as well. If you can't be there that Friday, there are other ways to see a few bucks shaved off your get-in-the-gate price, like the Rise & Shine deals on Saturdays and Sundays (think three-buck admission from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and Kids Days every Thursday (if your tot is under 12 she gets in for free, though kids under the age of 5 are welcomed sans admission every day of the fair).
SUPER PASS: And if you intend to go a lot -- the fair does last a month, after all, with a few closed days in the mix -- a pass, which covers 23 days, is probably the best way to do up the fair. Want to ponder that? Look here. Want to eye all of the special days and discounts? They're this way. Want to prepare for all of the funnel cakes you'll eat? That's your own path to walk, but save room for the creative new cuisine that's always introduced each and every year.