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Street Fair Is Right Up Kids' Alley

Events: Orange food festival expands its youth activities in an effort to shed its 'beer bust' image.


Mike Turner was happy Sunday to see that, along with the ice-cold beer, the Orange International Street Fair was well stocked with exciting activities for his young children, including face-painting, a bounce house and a petting zoo.

"It's a mini fair within the fair, and that's good because this event has gotten so big over the years," Turner said, happy to see an expanded children's area.

After his 4-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, had her face painted, the 32-year-old father from Orange headed for the beer line--his favorite booth when he first came to the fair as a bachelor 12 years ago--to counter the 92-degree heat and 41% humidity.

Turner's experience was just what fair organizers were aiming for when they planned the 30th annual fair, which attracted about 700,000 people Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The fair, which includes dozens of stands selling foods from Germany, Norway, Polynesia, Denmark, Mexico and elsewhere, had gotten a reputation as a "beer bust," said fair President Marsha Zembower. The expanded children's area was an effort to change that image, she said, and next year it will be three times larger.

"People seem to have found the children's area, and they are thrilled," Zembower said.

"It's like an old-fashioned fair."

Local nonprofits that run the booths rely on the proceeds to bolster their coffers, and some of their representatives said Sunday that the new attractions were great for business. Fair organizers said about 125 nonprofits participated this year.

Cathy Seelis, executive director of the Friendly Center, said she noted a slightly smaller crowd than in years past, but a thirsty crowd still eager to buy her tacos and beer.

Proceeds from the family resource center's booth--expected to be about $35,000--constitute an important part of the center's $400,000 annual budget.

The center, in Orange, provides emergency food and other assistance to the needy.

"This is our largest fund-raiser. It is very important to our budget. Besides, it gives us an opportunity to do outreach in the community," Seelis said.

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