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Orange County

A Fair at Its Height --in Attendance Too

Events: The dizzying Adrenaline Drop, classic rock bands are among the highlights of the annual attraction. The 17-day run ended Sunday in Costa Mesa.

July 29, 2002|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Atop the Adrenaline Drop, Jason Rodriguez heard a chorus of boos from a crowd of onlookers below urging him to take the 85-foot plunge into the net.

Rodriguez didn't care. He wouldn't budge.

"I just couldn't do it," said Rodriguez, 33, of Oregon. "There is no way."

Operators of the Adrenaline Drop, one of the most popular "rides" at this year's Orange County Fair, said Rodriguez was one of the few thrill-seekers too intimidated by heights to make the 85-foot free fall.

"Most people that go up there, they want to do it," site manager Roby Myles said. "If they're not sure, we do our best to talk them through it."

The attraction's popularity was one of the reasons this year's fair set attendance records, fair officials said.

Through the first 16 days of the 17-day fair in Costa Mesa, attendance was 820,577, about 33,000 ahead of last year's 16-day gate. Total attendance will be released this week.

Another success factor was a music concert series that featured classic rock bands from the '60s and '70s, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Boz Scaggs. In nine of 17 concerts, all 2,000 reserved seats were sold out before the fair opened.

The rodeo, the demolition derby and the comedy shows also were big draws for the fair, which ended Sunday after bringing in another huge weekend crowd.

And the reasonable admission prices didn't hurt: $7 for adults and $3 for children 6 to 12.

"I think, in Southern California, people are wanting to get out and celebrate, feel good and be with other people in a community celebration," said Becky Bailey-Findley, fair director. "We offer a lot of value for your dollar. There is a lot of free things to do once you get in here."

Brandon Yee of Monterey Park, age 19 months, came to the final day of the fair looking for a little less excitement than Adrenaline Drop. He came to the petting zoo and cuddled with a llama and a few sheep.

"A lot of the books we're reading are all about zoos and animals," said Brandon's mother, Amanda Lin. "This gives him a good opportunity to see what they're really like in person. He just loves taking it all in."

Tracy Sramek, 31, of Huntington Beach waited until the last day because she was busy planning her wedding. "I come every year for the [roasted] corn on the cob and the fried zucchini," she said. "I wasn't about to miss it."

Sramek wasn't the only one who came for the corn. A fair representative said more than 104,000 ears were consumed, making it one of the top-selling food items.

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