When the local city or state fair comes to town, you can bet that thousands of people will flock to it during the opening weekend. Despite the excess heat and lack of shade, the 3rd Annual OC Brew Hee Haw craft beer festival returned to the Orange County Fair & Event Center this past weekend. This weekend-long beer tasting event took place on the opening weekend of the 2016 OC Fair this past weekend, and covered a large span of the weekend with four different beer tasting sessions that each lasted four hours. All attendees to the OC Brew Hee Haw received UNLIMITED beer tasters, as well as admission to the fairgrounds for that day. The actual Brew Hee Haw area did not contain much else to do besides get beer, as the small space only allowed for just drinking plus a small stage to allow a DJ to set up. Attendees could still wander about the fair, but could not bring beer outside of the event area.
Now in its third year, the OC Brew Hee Haw has once again come under some changes upon improving it from the previous years. The number of sessions increased back up to four like the first year, but up one from last year. Much like last year, admission to the beer tasting allowed for unlimited beer samples while supplies lasted. New this year, OC Brew Hee Haw took place in a brand new area to allow for more space compared to the previous years’ cramped location. The event got its own tents set up at the northwest entrance to the fair, and allowed more than enough space to fit all of the breweries and vendors. On the other hand, also new this year, visitors faced enhanced screening at the entrance, complete with more searches and a metal detector. This held up hundreds of people trying to get in, and it took me at least 20 minutes to finally enter the fair after getting in line to get screened. The fair administration also mucked up parking for the vendors, as many of the vendors and volunteers got redirected to a different parking lot than previously instructed. As a result, many of the vendors and volunteers arrived way after the session had started. The attendees did not seem to mind this – if anything, it made people get closer and make new friends. I mean, just look at all these people – they look like they had a great time!
If you missed out on the Brew Hee Haw, fret not. The one that started them all, OC Brew Ha Ha, returns for its sixth installment on Saturday, September 24th, back at Oak Canyon Park in Irvine. Tickets have already gone on sale for $45 general admission or $60 for entry an hour earlier. All visitors gain access to UNLIMITED beer tastings for the duration of the event from over 90 breweries serving over 200 different beers. Expect to find plenty of food trucks, other food vendors, free soft drinks, merchandise booths, beer industry speakers, games, and more, which includes live music. To stay updated on news such as this and more from OC Brew Ha Ha, like the Facebook page and follow them on Twitter so you know what goes on in the realm of Orange County’s greatest beer festivals.