OC Fair

Are There a Lot of County Fairs in California?


Funnel Cake Question (2)
Yes. Fairs are held from Crescent City on the Oregon border to Imperial County near the border with Mexico. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) which manages State owned and operated fairgrounds and coordinates with other fairgrounds in the State, there are:

54 District Agricultural Associations (DAA's) owned and operated by the State.

2 DAA's were deactivated during fiscal year 1997/98, leaving 52 active DAA's.

23 County Fairs owned and operated by County government or not-for-profit organizations.

2 Citrus Fruit Fairs operated by not-for-profit organizations. A Citrus Fruit Fair is a specific type of fair focussed on citrus fruit.

The California Exposition and State Fair (Cal Expo) in Sacramento is a State agency.


A map of California fairs is available. 


Over 111 Day Wait for Answers About OC Fair Board Expenses & Still No Answers

2017 OC Fair Aerial View Cropped

The 2018 budget for the OC Fairgrounds was discussed and approved in November 2017.  Budget questions were emailed to CEO Kathy Kramer a few days before the meeting and were not answered. The same questions were asked during the November 2017 Board meeting when the 2018 budget was discussed and were not answered.  Attempts to follow up to receive answers to questions about expenditure of public money have been met with obstructionism.  OC Fair Board Directors are supposed to be serving without compensation and it is unclear why these expenses are needed.

During 2016 and 2017, OC Fair Board Directors received free nightly catered gourmet dinners for themselves and their families; free concert and admission tickets for themselves and their families including tickets to more than one event per day; use of a private bathroom costing over $14,000 for the 23 day run of the OC Fair; and use of a public employee tasked with being the Board Concierge to coordinate tickets, dinners, and guest lists for Directors. The OC Fairgrounds can't answer public records requests but has enough staff to give the Board a Concierge to manage their busy days of free dinners and free tickets. Executive Management, including those who are responsible for overseeing public records requests, are also recipients of the free nightly catered gourmet dinners and concert tickets. 

CEO Kathy Kramer appears to have the support of  the Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) in keeping this information under wraps as no Director answered the question at the November 2017 Board meeting and no Director has compelled release of the information after being made aware of stonewalling on the part of staff.

What Was Asked & Not Answered

Note: The account numbers refer to line items in the 2018 budget.

Regarding account 5150 Directors Expense budgeted at $11,597, what are the activities, personnel, and other items paid for with this money?

Regarding account 5155 Directors Meeting Expense budgeted at $12,300, what are the activities, personnel, and other items paid for with this money?

What is the budgeted amount in 2018 for the nightly catered Board/Business Development dinners held during the OC Fair? What is the budgeted amount in 2018 for Board Concierge services? What is the cost in 2018 of the complimentary parking and OC Fair tickets given to the dinner guests?

Will private bathroom facilities in the Board/Business Development dinner area be provided in 2018? What is the justification for these facilities given that the dinner attendees walk past a bathroom on their way into the event?

Has there been consideration of replacing the area used for the nightly Board/Business Development dinners with a revenue generating activity such as space rentals to concessionaires and vendors or creating a restaurant open to the Public? The restaurant would allow OC Fair patrons to dine on the same food as the 32nd DAA Board members while generating revenue for the 32nd DAA.

What are the costs including face value of tickets and staff time to fill orders associated with Directors and their families receiving complimentary tickets to the events held in the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar, and Action Sports Arena in 2018?

Will Directors be able to receive tickets to more than one event in the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar, and Action Sports Arena per day in 2018? What is the face value of the tickets received from attending more than one event per day in the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar and Action Sports Arena?

Will the Executive Management Team be gifting themselves complimentary tickets to the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar, and Action Sports Arena in 2018? What is the face value of the tickets gifted to the Executive Management Team?

Has there been consideration of relocating Directors from the premium pit seats to less expensive seats and placing all of the pit seats on sale to increase revenue for the 32nd DAA? This move would generate revenue for the 32nd DAA while reigning in costs.

Contacting the OC Fairgrounds

Public records requests can be submitted to cpra@ocfair.com

CEO Kathy Kramer can be reached at kkramer@ocfair.com

Directors choose to not have email addresses to be used by the public.  Email Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com and ask her to forward your message to the Directors.



What Happened After the Carnival Ride Accidents Last Summer?

Carnival Question (2)

The rides are in the process of being fixed if the rides have not already been fixed. In summer of 2017, a Fireball ride manufactured by KMG broke apart and killed one person. The G Force ride at the OC Fair was closed after the accident as a precaution.  An inspection of the damaged ride revealed problems with corrosion. Fixing the problems include replacing the gondolas and new inspection routines. G Force was closed for several days and reopened after repairs were made.

In California, amusement rides, including carnival rides, are overseen by the Amusement Ride and Tramway Unit of the Department of Industrial Relations.  Reporting requirements include submitting a schedule of locations the at which the ride will be used,  submitting information about  new rides or alterations to existing rides, and reporting injuries, accidents, or major mechanical failures. The district office for Southern California is at 2000 E McFadden Ave, Suite 210, Santa Ana, CA 92705. (714) 567-7211

An industry group, Council of  Amusement and Recreational Safety Equipment (CARES) works to disseminate information on service bulletins from ride manufacturers and consults on ride safety regulations.  Some of the information available from CARES includes technical bulletins,  how the nationwide ride tracking system is implemented, and a list of rides with specifications for non-destructive testing (NDT).

Is the OC Fairgrounds Owned by the State of California? Are They Part of State Government?

Cow Question (2)

Yes and yes. The OC Fairgrounds is owned by the State of California and is formally known as the 32nd District Agricultural Association or 32nd DAA.  

District Agricultural Associations were established to assist in marketing California agricultural products by showcasing livestock, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, seeds, hay, straw, other agricultural commodities, and products made from agricultural commodities.  The reason the OC Fair actually exists is to show off local livestock and agricultural products. The Junior Livestock Auction is part of that core reason for being of the OC Fair as are the wine, food, flower, and produce competitions

District Agricultural Associations are part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in the Executive Branch of government and report to the Governor. Fairs fall under the Marketing Services branch which also manages dairy product production, marketing and pricing; assists in marketing agricultural commodities; and collects agricultural market information and statistics to assist California farmers in growing and selling their commodities. Fairs and Expositions is under Marketing Services and assists State owned and operated fairgrounds in management.

CEO Kathy Kramer to Make Appearance at March 6, 2018 Costa Mesa City Council Meeting

Check It Out (1)


CEO Kathy Kramer will make an appearance at the March 6, 2018, Costa Mesa City Council meeting which starts at 6 PM at 77 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa to make a presentation at the beginning of the meeting agendized as "2. Upcoming OC Fair Events & Information – Ms. Kathy Kramer, CEO, OC Fair".  As this is an information item and does not have a staff report detailing what is being presented, CEO Kathy Kramer should stick to providing information about upcoming concerts, events, classes, and similar items and refrain from discussion of any and all issues regarding the Master Site Plan, Board of Directors decisions, upcoming items on the Board of Directors agenda, or any matter which is not strictly informational. Council Members should also refrain from discussing issues which do not appear on the agenda with CEO Kramer at this time. 

If CEO Kathy Kramer wants to discuss those items with the Costa Mesa City Council, she needs to come back and ask for the item(s) to be placed on the agenda with a staff report prepared and with both the Council and public allowed to ask questions and make comments regarding the agenda item.  Similarly, if the Council wants a discussion of issues involving the OC Fairgrounds,  Council should place the item on the agenda with a staff report prepared and with both the Council and public allowed to ask questions and make comments regarding the agenda item.


Background on CEO Kathy Kramer

Kathy Kramer has worked as:

Director of Sales and Marketing for Harrah's Casino and Hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Midwest Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for Six Continents Hotels and Resorts in Omaha, Nebraska

Vice President of Convention Sales and Marketing for Century Link Center in Omaha, Nebraska

Deputy Director of Phoenix Convention Center and Venues: Ms. Kramer was part of the executive team that oversaw a $600M expansion project tripling the rentable space to nearly one million sq. ft and placing the convention center in the top 25 convention centers in North America. The expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center permanently changed the area around the property and led to the development of hotels and restaurants near the property. 

Vice President of Business Operations at Northlands in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada










Record Breaking 2017 Revenues & Cash Reserves at OC Fairgrounds

32nd DAA Historic Revenue Chart

As the books on 2017 are closed, the financial achievements of the OC Fairgrounds (also known as the 32nd District Agricultural Association or 32nd DAA)  in Costa Mesa, CA, become clear with record breaking revenues of $46,218,579, up by over $2 million from 2016 revenues of $44,085,055. Operating expenses increased from $32,913,281 in 2016 to $36,284,118, but the operation was still highly profitable. An all time high in cash and cash equivalent reserves came in at $43,577,495. A summary follows and detailed financial statements are available for download. 

Download Financials_HistoricalFebruary_Board_Packet

All figures are end of period. 

  2017 2016
Cash & Cash Equivalent $43,577,495 $38,206,988
Total OC Fairgrounds Produced Event Revenue     $35,075,050   $34,203,177
Total Year Rental Revenue     $10,592,999 $9,567,324
Total Non-Operating Revenue     $550,531 $314,554
Total Revenue     $46,218,579 $44,085,055
Total Operating Expenses      $36,284,118  $32,913,281
Profits   $9,934,461 $11,171,774

4 Legal Settlements Protect the Neighborhoods Around the OC Fairgrounds

Oops Man Question (2)

There are 4 legal settlements with the OC Fairgrounds which protect the neighborhoods around the Fairgrounds. Each settlement is the product of a Master Site Plan. The settlements are:

1980 Settlement with the City of Costa Mesa requiring storm water runoff management, traffic management, compliance with the municipal code for noise limits and specific types of development, and deletion of a planned commercial development, among other provisions.

Concerned Citizens Settlement to reign in the Pacific Amphitheatre which led to the closure of the Pacific Amphitheatre from 1995 to 2003 and imposed noise limits on the venue, among other provisions.

1996 Settlement with the City of Costa Mesa which imposes a cap of a 25,500 total persons on the property at any time outside of the annual OC Fair, requires the use of leased parking and shuttles to meet parking demands, limits development, and eliminated proposed hotel, restaurant and off track betting facility, among other provisions.

2012 Settlement with the Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society to continue the noise limits on the Pacific Amphitheatre, require the use of a trained sound monitor, require a complaint monitoring system for noise complaints, and limit seating in the Pacific Amphitheatre to 8,500 seats, among other provisions.

What Is Going to Happen to the OC Fair if the Master Site Plan Proposals are Built?

It is not clear if the OC Fair fits into the Master Site Plan proposals. Adding two and three story buildings with many football fields on space takes away space for the carnival, midway, food vendors, outdoor entertainment, and other stuff you enjoy at the OC Fair. Check out the overlays of the 2017 OC Fair and the Master Site Plan proposals.

Minimal OC Fair Overlay (1)

Aspirational OC Fair Overlay (1)

Bold OC Fair Overlays (1)

Download OC Fair overlays of the Master Site Plan Proposals as a PDF file  Download OC Fair Overlays