ORANGE COUNTY FAIR

When: Opens July 11. Noon-midnight Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday and Sunday through Aug. 10.

Where: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa.

Tickets: $12 adults, $7 seniors and youth 6-12 and free for children 5 and under. Parking $10. Free weekend off-site parking at the Experian parking structure on the Bristol Street exit from 405 Freeway, with a shuttle bus to and from the fairgrounds. 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Also: special Orange County Transportation Authority buses take passengers to and from the fairgrounds from eight locations, including Anaheim, Fullerton and Huntington Beach for $2.

Information: 714-708-1500, www.ocfair.com.

By Michelle Mills

michelle.mills@langnews.com @mickieszoo on Twitter

Whether you're a first-timer or a fan, it never hurts to go to the Orange County Fair with a plan. Though it is smaller than its big brother the Los Angeles County Fair, there's a lot to see, do and eat. Here's our 10 recommendations from fair insiders.

Tasti Chips

What is it?: Made-to-order potato chips with a variety of toppings. The biggest selling topping is cheddar cheese, which contains real bacon bits and black pepper. “My absolute favorite is the chips with the classic cheddar cheese sauce. I started eating them in 1977 when I started, and the sauce is so good,” said Lori Sutherland, current owner of the 40-year-old Vista-based Tasti Chips business. “Ours is of the few places anywhere that you can get a fresh potato chip.

” Try the newest Tasti Chip flavor, garlic Parmesan, that comes in a small size for you and maybe a friend to nibble or large, which will feed a family. Tasti Chips begin at $7.50 regular size and $10.50 for a large order. The garlic Parmesan shakers are $8.75 and $11.75

 

Location: Country Meadows and Livestock Lane

2009 Violeta Port from PasoPort Wine Company

What is it?: A dessert wine made with Portuguese varieties of grapes, it tingles on the tongue with blueberry, blackberry and boysenberry notes. It received a Gold Medal Award in the Wine Competition, as well as the Best Dessert Bottle Award in the Bottle Display Competition. Wine is $3 for two tastes of award winning wines, 1 ounce each, and $8 for 8 ounces of non-award winners.

Location: The Courtyard

 

Brew Hee Haw Craft Beer Roundup

What is it?: A special event within the fair featuring more than 60 craft beer selections from regional breweries with a focus on local Orange County breweries. There will also be educational seminars, games, music and more. 6-10 p.m. on opening day today, July 11; noon-4 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, and noon-4 p.m. on Sunday, July 13. $50-$55, includes 15 tastings and fair admission. www.ocbrewheehaw.com/

Location: Exhibit tent in Livestock

 

Freestyle

What is it?: New to the Orange County Fair this year, riders sit facing outward on the Freestyle for a spinning, tilting, thrilling time. This ride is 12 tickets, which is $6. $20-$100 fun passes available. http://sales.ticketcostars.com/OCFair/tabid/1554/Default.aspx.

Location: Midway

Big Water

What is it?: An all-ages game for up to 16 players at a time, Big Water players shoot water guns at targets, in a race to get their marker to the top first. “It is the most played game on the Midway,” Orange County Fair communications director Robin Wachner said. This ride is 12 tickets, which is $6. $20-$100 fun passes available. http://sales.ticketcostars.com/OCFair/tabid/1554/Default.aspx

 

Location: Midway

Wild West Turkey Stampede

What is it?: The turkeys of Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona are coming to the fair for the first time to show people what they do for fun: They run after Big Red, a remote controlled truck loaded with turkey treats. Cheer and laugh at 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. daily. Free admission.

Location: Livestock Show Ring

Metalachi

What is it?: From Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Metalachi claims to be “the world's first and only heavy metal mariachi band.” Hear songs by Slayer, Black Sabbath, Guns ‘n' Roses, Bon Jovi, Metallica and more with a twist. Mex-Zeppelin will also perform. 8:30 p.m. July 25, $16-$18, includes fair admission. www.ocfair.com/2014/entertainment/the_hangar.asp

 

Location: The Hangar

‘Fairtastic Food'

What is it?: In this new competition, home cooks are invited to show off their ideas from the next best fair food. The categories include On A Stick, Finger Foods, Fork Friendly and On A Roll. Deadline to apply is Aug. 6 www.formstack.com/forms/OCF-fairtastic_food_form. The competition will be held 1 p.m. Aug. 9. No entry fee.

Location: Promenade

Big Bug Hut

What is it?: See live and preserved bugs and insects from around the world, like spiders, caterpillars and scorpions, while learning their good, bad and unbelievable traits. You may even touch some of the creepy crawlies — with supervision, of course. Free admission.

 

Location: Explorium

Wax Hands

What is it?: Create a wax sculpture of your hand. “First they dip their hand into ice cold water, then they shake it off and then we dip it into the wax — it's jacuzzi warm,” said Teresa Farnum, owner of the Riverside company, adding that the process is repeated until the wax is thickened and slides off like a glove. Customers can select their pose, such as making a peace sign or holding an object like a rose or baseball. There is a selection of colors and other embellishments to complete your sculpture. Wax Hands is not new, but Farnum said it become an annual tradition for many families visiting the fair. “What they're doing is making memories,” Farnum said. Wax Hands are $7-$15.

 

Location: In front of main carnival

Acific Inc. teeth whitening

What is it: We have seen this at fairs before, but were not quite sure how popular it might be. For a fee, relax in a recliner with a neon blue light in your mouth and leave the fair with whiter teeth. Customers also can buy a do-it-at-home kit to keep their pearlies bright. Treatment cost is $39.95 and take-home kit is $60.

Location: Carnival of Products, Family Fair Way