Remember the county fair when you were growing up?  The cotton candy, the popcorn, the funnel cakes, the corn dogs.  Remember the sites and sounds of the midway?  The flashing lights, the carnival games, the giant stuffed animal prizes.  And the rides – remember the rides?  The tilt-a-whirl, the Ferris wheel, the haunted mansion.  In all these years, the county fair remains mostly unchanged – you can find all of those memories waiting for you when the OC Fair opens today.

But do you know what makes the OC Fair special?  What sets it apart from the county fair of my youth?  Concerts.  Lots and lots of concerts.

For those of you not familiar with the OC Fair, they offer two main concert venues.  The first is known as The Hangar, and it features cover bands and smaller acts.  Here you can find some great entertainment for a reasonable price – check out their lineup for show details.  The second venue – and the main focus of our interest – is the Pacific Amphitheater, a recently remodeled gem that is only available for concerts during “fair season” (a few weeks before and after the OC Fair).

Once again the lineup is spectacular this year.  So much so that we here at Rock in the OC are attending at least nine of the concerts:

07/14 – Ratt / Tom Keifer (Cinderella) / Lynch Mob
Warren DeMartini recently left Ratt which means the guitar won’t be as epic as it could have been. That said, we’ve seen Tom Keifer recently, and his voice alone is worth the price of admission.

07/19 – The Psychedelic Furs / X / The Fixx
We can’t miss a Furs show – and toss in local favorites X, and The Fixx, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic lineup.

07/21 – Which One’s Pink?
A phenomenal Pink Floyd cover band. If you can’t hear the original, Which One’s Pink? is an excellent substitute.

07/26 – Retro Futura
Belinda Carlisle headlines this 80’s pop fest. Belinda was fantastic at The Go-Go’s concert last week, and we can’t wait to hear her solo.

08/02 – Rick Springfield / Loverboy / Greg Kihn / Tommy Tutone
Another awesome 80’s lineup. We’ll be honest, we’d go just to hear 867-5309/Jenny.

08/08 – Toto / Asia featuring John Payne
We’ve never seen either Toto or Asia live – so we couldn’t pass this one up.

08/12 – Steve Miller Band / Peter Frampton
If you can only go to one concert this summer – go listen to the Steve Miller Band. We saw them at the fair last year and they were amazing.

08/16 – Stray Cats / Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
All three original Stray Cats back on stage? Plus some Zoot Suit Riot to open? Count us in.

08/17 – Stray Cats / The Paladins
Yeah, we really like the Stray Cats – so much so we’re going to watch them twice.

For a complete list of shows (comedy, country, a little something for everyone) visit the Pacific Amphitheater website.

Haven’t purchased tickets yet?  Thinking of going to multiple shows or bringing a bunch of friends?  If so, you may want to think about purchasing an OC Fair Super Pass.  This $40 pass includes the benefit of 2 for 1 tickets to many of the concerts.  Tickets need to be purchased directly at the Pacific Amphitheater box office, and seating may be limited.  That said, we went to the box office yesterday and there were still some great seats available as part of this deal.

Keep in mind, your concert ticket also provides you with admission to the fair on the day of the concert – so you can get your fill on corn dogs before you enjoy the show.

Hopefully we’ll see you at a show this summer.  Be sure to check back for our photos and reviews!