As the sun set on the Fairplex with bright lights and vibrant music playing in the background, people walked past with large carnival plushies and the old feeling of nostalgia as the unmistakable smell of barbecue and fried food filled the air. After being absent for nearly two years due to the pandemic, it was pleasant and fulfilling to return to the LA County Fair with its scaled-down version of itself at the “Bite-Sized Fair.”
With a smaller footprint, the fair takes after its larger traditional counterpart, offering a variety of carnival rides and vendors, alongside a more food-focused theme with select vendors offering smaller $3 “bite-sized” snacks, allowing attendees to try a little bit of everything. The event took place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout Sept. 10-26.
With this being a food-focused event, the various options provided by vendors did not disappoint. As 26 food vendors surrounded the lot, options were plentiful and delicious. The food ranged from giant hickory-smoked turkey legs to deep-fried Oreos and foot-long bacon-wrapped hot dogs, ensuring there was something for everyone.
While the focus of fair food could be centered around some of the largest, unhealthiest fried items that you could possibly eat, Pepe’s Mariscos, a vendor specializing is Mexican seafood, was one of the food highlights of my trip. The grilled fish and battered shrimp tacos were exceptionally juicy and flavorful, bringing a nice light dish to contrast the heavy fried foods that surrounded the venue.
The LA County Fair is the fourth largest fair in the United States, and enjoying the smaller version was a nice change of pace with lines being shorter and the space being less crowded. The convenience of having all the amenities of the fair in close proximity to each other allowed all aspects of the event to be enjoyed. With the fair in the past, I would find new things each year I would attend just because of how big the entire event was.
With 30 different ride attractions available at the fair, both children and adults can indulge in what the fair had to offer. For those looking for more of a thrill, iconic carnival rides like the Zipper, Tango and Ice Jets could certainly do the job. Even more relaxed rides like the Ferris wheel, occasionally shaking with the gusts of wind, provided an adrenaline boost for those with a fear of heights.
Lines of classic carnival games were spread in large red tents throughout the lot. The cost to play these games can be on the pricier side, ranging from $5-$15 per play and seem like a risky bet with more luck-based games like ring toss. Games like bank-aball seemed doable with the right technique and finesse, matching my liking. Many of these games offered sizeable prizes for winners such as giant colorful Squishmallows and huge sloths.
As a result of this being a smaller sized event, a few amenities like the animal and agriculture exhibits were not offered. While these are typically nice additions to the fair, they are also not the main attraction so the absence of these did not take away from the overall feeling of the fair and were not missed by me.
Despite missing the traditional large nature of the LA County Fair, the atmosphere did not disappoint and brought excitement to what is to come in May 2022 when the full-scale fair returns.
Whether you’re into the carnival games, thrilling rides, or the delicious food, the “Bite-Sized” fair had something to offer for anyone and everyone. For more information on the LA County Fair and upcoming events, visit their website.