Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the health and safety protocols at the Street Fair.
The historic downtown district of Old Towne Orange was less hectic than usual last September as the Orange International Street Fair festivities took place virtually due to COVID-19. For the weekend of Labor Day 2021, the fair returns to the square and the surrounding streets.
An annual event since 1973, the street fair was originally a way for the city of Orange to celebrate its centenary. Mayor Jess Perez ran the first fair, and it was organized by the city until the early 1980s, when it became a volunteer sponsored and run business (OISF, Inc. is a non-profit organization certified profit 501 (c) (4) founded 1985).
According to Director of Operations Brian Lochrie, “Our Board of Directors collects a per linear foot charge from vendors, arts and crafts stalls, community stalls and trade stalls, and with the support of our sponsors, we use that money to pay for everything from police and fires to public works to portable toilets, temporary fences and electrical services.
Additionally, part of the wristband sale (for identity verification which is required for those who want to drink beer or wine) is also used to cover costs. As a result, “The public can enjoy a wonderful fair which is free to attend. Nonprofits can make money selling food and drink to help support their causes, and Orange taxpayers are not footing the bill for this event, ”Lochrie said.
Regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Lochrie said, “We have signage at every entrance saying masks are required for those who are not vaccinated. OISF also has masks and hand sanitizer available on request at the information kiosk.
Since the completion of the five-level parking structure of the old town of Orange at 130 N. Lemon St. in February 2019, 608 additional free parking spaces were made available to people coming from other cities. Other features include six electric vehicle charging ports and eight bike racks at the street level of the structure.
Participants near a train station may want to reduce their carbon footprint by taking Metrolink’s Inland Empire or Orange County lines to Orange station, a few steps from the festivities.
Fourteen “streets” representing a diversity of ethnicities are located along Chapman Avenue East and West and Glassell Street North and South. The shawarma and falafel served by St. John Maron are available on Lebanese Street, while Vanguards Football Boosters will feature pork sliders on Polynesian Street.
Looking for something else? Feast on mango sticky rice and Thai caramel chicken wings along Thailand Street from Orange Blossoms, a League of Orange Support auxiliary. And for dessert, powdered donuts are sold by Orange Hills Assembly on France Street.
Old Old Town Preservation Association (OTPA) President Sandy Quinn has been a resident for 21 years and has witnessed the growth of the community event. “It has turned into a terrific and inviting buffet of entertainment, food, drink, retail and public service presentations,” said Quinn. “The income from OTPA’s involvement has enabled it to continue to preserve and protect the historic heritage of the old town.
Beer will be the OTPA’s offering this year along Irish Street. If you plan on sipping foam at the OTPA or one of the other kiosks that sell them, pourings usually start around noon on Saturdays and Sundays, with a final call at 9 p.m. The general atmosphere is more family-friendly earlier in the day. As the event continues into the evening, the street fair gets even louder.
OTPA is not the only non-profit organization to have a booth at the fair. Other groups include Orange North Rotary Club and Orange County American Italian Renaissance Foundation, with proceeds going to participating charities, volunteer groups and student organizations.
Dean Kim, an Orange resident and owner of OC Baking Company, admitted his favorite OISF cuisine is All-American Street Funnel Cake. “If you’ve never experienced the street fair, you have to do it at least once,” Kim said.
“Enjoying the evening with your friends at the Orange Street Fair is above all a question of community. ”
Luna’s dining recommendations include Mexico Street restaurants. “Get the quesadillas and tamales from the Apostolic Church in Orange. These tamales are almost as good as my mom’s. I love the way they serve homemade salsa in an old syrup pot.
Residents wonder about pedestrian-friendly Orange Paseo Square, which was built for alfresco dining last year and used by many restaurants in the Old Town, will be relieved to learn that it will return soon after the end of OISF and will remain in place until late 2021. According to Orange Business and Public Affairs Director Paul Sitkoff, “City Council has asked city staff to initiate the environmental review process and provide design guidelines for implementation. season of the Old Towne Orange Paseo.
You can find more information about the Orange International Street Fair, including an entertainment program and details on Children’s Street (a section for younger guests). in line.
The street fair is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on September 3 and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on September 4 and 5. Admission is free and prices for individual kiosks vary.
Anne Marie Panoringan is a food columnist for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be contacted at amp[email protected]