I was fit to be fried at the Fair

Story and photos by DIANE ARMITAGE

I’ve lived here 17 years without a single visit to the Orange County Fair. Fearing that the mere fact might physically force me out of California’s borders, I made a commitment to find my way there this summer. This year, the OC Fair rolls through Aug 13 (next Sunday), so I figured opportunity would find its way to my door. 

Within hours, one of my girlfriends called out of the blue to ask me to the OC Fair. Her husband’s band, Members Lonely, was playing for just 45 minutes which, apparently, is standard protocol at the Orange County Fair. 

Great live music

We arrived at 11 a.m., just in time to catch the band. Even just an hour after the gates opened, the place was hopping. At least 100 people had found their way to the Members Lonely performance and, even more surprising to me…at 11 a.m., long lines on either side of the stage were queued up for big draft beer pours. 

When the band wrapped for the day, and the standing ovation had ended, my friend, Terri, and I set out to find “The Best Fried Food at the O.C. Fair.”

Now, Terri is a Significant Foodie. By “significant,” I mean she’s willing to try just about anything. Too many times, I meet self-described “foodies” who proceed to tell me that they can’t stand this protein, that green, this type of sauce or any kind of fish served with their heads still attached. To me, this is not a Significant Foodie. Happily, Terri stands proud at the top of my Foodie estimator, and we strolled about quite cheerfully with our intent in mind.

Somewhat overwhelming mob

As we walked and walked and walked, the grounds filled quickly. This was mind-blowing to me as this proved a much larger space than I had imagined, sprawling 150 acres. The OC Fair began in 1889, has been in operation every year since 1916, and runs 23 full days, putting it in the top 6 longest-running state and county fairs of the year (San Diego County Fair tops them all at 26 days).

There are carnival rides, a kiddie carnival, livestock shows (with milking demonstrations!), giant vegetable winners on proud display, olive oil competitions, SPAM Championships, culinary chef demonstrations, arts and crafts galore, wine seminars, and even crazy, action sports from Extreme Rodeo to monster trucks, demolition derbies and “Motorhome Madness” and even All-Alaskan Racing Pigs (really?).

The OC Fair brings in more than one million visitors – an average 43,000 every single day. (Who knew any other OC entity could rival what we see jostling in Laguna’s streets every summer day?!) On Sunday, it felt like all one million visitors were there right with us. What a crazy, amazing, people-watching kind of overload.

Everywhere you turn, you see two things: 

1) A music stage with something happening, and 

2) Giant edifices paying homage to food in giant portions. It’s never a difficult search to find fried foods, let me tell you.  

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Ice Cream Chicken Sandwich!

This year, the hottest selling item seems to be a Krispy Kream Ice Cream Chicken sandwich – the famed Doughnut loaded with a giant scoop of ice cream, a slab of fried chicken, and a hearty sprinkle of Fruity Pebbles.

Fearing this might just put me in cardiac arrest, Terri and I opted, instead, for tried-and-true “crowd pleaser” staples. 

A search for the Best Fried Food 

We started with Fried Pickle Poppers stuffed with Jalapeno Cream Cheese. 

Foodie report card: The poppers were too large – we expected a one- or two-bite size. The pickles were too large inside the fried bits, and still a bit cold. Jalapeno cream was good, but could have been more plentiful. 

Overall rating: 2 out of 10.

From there, it was Fried Bacon Wrapped Cheese Bombs. 

Foodie report card:  Bombs definitely performed better than the poppers, but a bit too much of the fried stuffin’ going on. They arrived atop a giant amount of French fries, which were rather bland. 

Overall rating: 5 out of 10

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Fried bacon-wrapped cheese bombs

(We took a brief recess to split a Pink’s “Snoop Dog” hot dog, topped with chili, cheese, onion and mustard. While the chili was OK, Pink’s was rather pale on the foodie greatness scale.)

Then, it was on to Fried Australian Stuffed Potato Planks.

Foodie report card: Although these had come highly recommended, these were a might heap o’ disappointment. Barely any sauce or bacon bits, and the planks had been sitting around for awhile. 

Overall rating: 1 out of 10

Ever hopeful, we then stood in line for the last item of the day – Fried Klondike Bar. 

Foodie report card: At last! Of course, there can’t be much that can go wrong with a brick of ice cream, chocolate and flash-fried coating…except, of course, that it melts quickly into a puddle of goo. We weren’t complaining. 

Overall rating: 8 out of 10

Final Report Card

Next year, I’m making a beeline for the fried Klondike bar, finding a seat at the Members Lonely bandstand. From there, it’s a trot over to the Wine Society’s center courtyard for a great discovery in Chardonnay, and spending the remainder of the hot afternoon in the shaded confines of the OC Fair’s culinary demonstrations. 

See? There’s something for everyone here!

Diane Armitage is the best-selling author of the book, The Best of Laguna Beach, and offers a cornucopia of ideas and upcoming events at her blog, LagunaBeachBest.com

Dennis’ Tidbits


August 8, 2017

Hot August nights – and days - remembered

August history continued…. August of 1961 was warm and sunny for the most part and the surf was decent with nice ocean temps hovering around 70. The month started out strong with a solid 6-8 ft. Baja swell with another one right on its heels. A strong southern Hemi arrived during mid month with sets up to 15 ft. at Newport’s Wedge. Only a few people knew about the Wedge back then but it didn’t take long for the place to be known worldwide in the surfing culture. 

Another Baja swell hit at the end of the month. There were three good thunderstorms that month as the summer monsoons were in high gear. One thunderstorm on the 15th went on almost all night which got McWeather all excited. Not much sleep that night but it was really fun. Surfed some good days at Doheny. The previous summer on July 20, 1960 I stood up on a surfboard for the very first time and became hooked for life. I’ll ride waves until I drop.

August of 1962 was a fraud with lots of gloom and mediocre surf and the water was down to 62 the last week of the month. Usually late August is about when the water is the warmest normally. Only surfed a couple of days. One bright note… I bought my very first brand new surfboard, a 9-4 Wardy from the old Wardy shop on Forest Avenue when it was located right past the City Hall near the canal. My board was shaped by one of the best, the late Terry Martin. It cost 112 dollars. My Dad paid for half of it and I paid the other half out of money I saved from my LA Times paper route. I rode Malibu for the first time that August on my brand new Wardy and got my first noseride on a perfect little three foot peeler.

August of 1963 was really nice with plenty of waves, sunshine, and warm water. The last week was really big with a Baja and Southern Hemi combo. The red flag was flying at Main Beach for eight consecutive days. Back then they didn’t hoist the red flag until the waves were at least a consistent 6-8 ft. plus. Nowadays it flies on some 5-6 foot days. Different set of rules these days. More on August next time, see y’all on Friday, ALOHA!

Creature Features: a new niche


During my six months with Stu News, I’ve written about bunnies, chicks, snakes, Pacific Pocket mice, goats, sharks, ticks, fleas, mockingbirds, Ranger, our police department K-9, and most recently, a bearded dragon named Lenny. I think I’ve found my niche, or maybe the niche found me.

So, beginning on Tues, Aug 15 (and continuing every other Tues), we are introducing a column called, “Creature Features,” which will highlight pets, pet care (thanks to our go-to vet Dr. G at Canyon Animal Hospital), insects, wilderness animals, sea creatures, and strange animals (not the human variety).

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Photo credit: Joyce Buettner

“If you don’t talk to your cats about catnip, who will?”

Along with the articles, we will also have a New Yorker-style animal picture/cartoon caption contest (example above), with prizes. More specifics on the contest will be included with the first column. We look forward to your input.

After a visit to Bluebird Canyon Farm and a conversation with their bee expert Conner, our first feature will be on bees.

Until then…

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen, though. That’s the problem.” ― A.A. Milne

More than 100 exhibitors set to participate in Art-To-Go fundraising collection at the Festival of Arts

Art collectors who love travel will enjoy the 2017 Art-To-Go fundraising collection at Festival of Arts. More than 100 exhibitors donated originals under the theme “The Art of Travel”. Works are available for purchase daily, now through Aug 31, while supplies last.

A special 20 percent-off sale will be featured Sat Aug 12, 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Sealed bids will also be accepted, opened at 2 p.m, and items sold by 3:30 p.m. Bid forms are available now at the displays on the Festival grounds.

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Submitted Photo

Tom Lamb holds his entry 

“My travel involves flying over Avalon,” said painter Michael Obermeyer, “So I painted an aerial of a seaplane over the famous casino.”. The collection also features originals by Kate Cohen, Toni Danchik, Rick Graves, Mark Jacobucci, Greg LaRock, Tom Lamb,  Jacquie Moffett, Mariana Nelson, and many more.

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Submitted Photo

Jonathan Hunt and Ron Azevedo

Proceeds from Art-To-Go sales benefit The Artists Fund at Festival of Arts, providing hardship and disaster relief grants for artists in need. View the Online Gallery at TheArtistsFund-foa.org or call (949) 612-1949. Visit the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd, FoAPoM.com

Who will pick up the “most unusual” or “most pounds” of trash at the Eco-Warrior beach cleanup?

Chris Tebbutt, realtor, is teaming up with the ECO-Warrior Foundation for its annual South Laguna Community Beach Cleanup on Sat, Aug 12 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

“I chose to partner with James for his clear passion and no-nonsense approach to keeping our coastal environments clean. The ECO-Warrior Foundation is all about creating awareness, inspiring people to make a difference, and giving them opportunities to take action,” Tebbutt said. “James definitely leads by example and recognizes that it takes a village to make things happen in such a way that people want to show up and help.”

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Submitted photo

Part of the “village” that helped pick up 500 pounds of trash last year

This year, the event will be stationed near the top of the stairs at West Street Beach so that volunteers can pick up supplies and clean up the beach of their choice. 

ECO-Warrior Foundation will provide free collection bags, gloves and data sheets for volunteers to keep track of the items they collect and how much they collected. 

The data is critical for the team to understand what kinds of trash are having the biggest impact on the beaches. Cigarette butts are among the most commonly found litter on the beaches.

The event will also include free lunch and drinks to all volunteers and a free t-shirt for the first 50 volunteers, along with music, prizes for the “most unusual” and the “most pounds” of trash collected.

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Submitted photo

James Pribram, ECO-Warrior founder and realtor Chris Tebbutt

Given that South Laguna beaches get hit hard during the summer season, it is important for Tebbutt and partner James Pribram, Founder of ECO-Warrior Foundation, to focus on this area at least once a year.

OC Parks maintains and is responsible for the county beaches in South Laguna. 

“We greatly appreciate how hard OC Parks works and understand the pressure they are under to keep up with the constant load, especially during the summer season. OC Parks is very grateful for our support and are our partners for the South Laguna Community Beach Cleanup,” Tebbutt said. 

Not only is the cleanup very much needed due to summer traffic, it is also an event that brings the local community together to make a difference. Many neighbors come with their children and friends, as well as dedicated volunteers and camp groups from as far away as Riverside and Los Angeles. Many students participate to get volunteer credits for school.

The cleanup has become a special community event

“We aim to make the beach cleanup a positive, community experience. When volunteers come together for a common cause, something special happens. We encourage everyone to come and participate, regardless of who you are or where you live,” Tebbutt said.

Last year on Thousand Steps beach the event had 75 volunteers and collected approximately 500 pounds of trash. The goal this year is to double the amount of volunteers, although the team is not necessarily hoping to find more pounds of garbage on our shores.

Chris Tebbutt, a self-proclaimed possibility junkie, is a Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway California Properties. He serves on the Executive Board of Directors of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trustees for SchoolPower, the Laguna Beach Education Foundation, is Chair of the Laguna Beach LGBT Heritage & Culture Committee and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Chris lives in Laguna Beach with his husband Bob Fouhy and twin sons Owen & Charles Fouhy. 

James Pribram, founder of ECO-Warrior Foundation, is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer, John Kelly Environmental Award winner and recipient of the 2011 Laguna Beach Patriots Day Athlete of the Year Award. His written work has appeared in the LA Times, Surfer’s Path, Surfing, Surfer, Water and numerous additional publications worldwide.

ECO-Warrior Foundation is a California and Federal non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving our oceans and beaches through education, activation and motivation.

Mark Christy will speak at the Laguna Beach Business Club for its 2017 Speaker Series on Aug 17

The Laguna Beach Business Club is proud to announce the notable local retailer, entrepreneur, hotelier, restaurateur, music and sports fan, occasional radio DJ, and perhaps Laguna Beach’s biggest supporter, Mark Christy, as speaker on Thursday August 17. 

The club holds a breakfast meeting the third Thursday each month at 7:30 a.m. at the Hotel Laguna, hosting speakers who discuss topics valuable to achieving success in personal and professional lives. 

Mark Christy is a graduate of Laguna Beach High and has been in Laguna his entire life (other than while attending UC Santa Barbara).  While most well known as the President and Owner of Hobie Sports, with retail shops in Laguna, Dana Point and Corona del Mar, he is also a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway, a partner in Tuvalu Home Interiors and La Sirena restaurants, and he is now becoming widely known as the Managing Partner (and the moving force behind the renaissance) of The Ranch at Laguna Beach.  

The Ranch was recently featured in an article in the Dec 2016 edition of Forbes Magazine, and is now a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, an invitation-only recognition.

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Mark Christy at the Ranch  

Through Mark, Hobie Sports donates to myriad Laguna Beach sports teams, schools and charities,  as well as being a downtown anchor retailer, continuing to feature the legendary Hobie Alter’s vision of the active sports life.   

Mark is a fervent advocate for maintaining the unique vibe and lifestyle and is Laguna’s number one cheerleader. Though maintaining more than two full-time ‘jobs’, Mark still squeaks in a Friday round of golf at the Ben Brown’s course at The Ranch, some stand up paddling and volleyball.  Mark will share his love of and visions for Laguna and The Ranch, and some of his lifetime’s experiences in Laguna with the LBBC on August 17.   

Club meetings begin with a buffet breakfast and brief networking roundtable. Meetings are hosted at the Hotel Laguna (425 S. Coast Hwy). Non-members are welcome. 

For more information about the club or to register to attend a meeting contact a club member or Bart Zandbergen at 949-363-8686, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The LBBC is a group of local business professionals and entrepreneurs who meet monthly to discuss current events, business opportunities and share insights. Its goal goal is to build and maintain relationships with local professionals and businesses.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising


Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc