This weekend, America’s Family Pet Expo is marking its 27th year at the O.C. Fairgrounds and Event Center in Costa Mesa this weekend. This is a completely different animal than you will see at local zoos (Pun Intended). It’s something I look forward to every year ever since I first chanced upon it four years ago.
The fair airplane hangar type structures house enough animals and exhibits that it’s impossible to see everything in one day, so you’re going have to pick and choose what to gloss over and what events to get to early so you get that cozy bleachers seat. On the standard side of the expo there will be a cat show, an adoption building and dog training and grooming classes.
On the flashier side, there will be a wave pool for the surfing and diving animals, and fire and water rescue demonstration. Dogs will also be jumping surprisingly high in a real flying disc competition. If you are the slightest bit allergic, or queasy about the smell of dogs, look out because there are usually about one hundred breeds or more on display with their club representatives. Do you have a Frenchy? Do you want a Frenchy? Do you want to attend a meet up/picnic with car loads of Frenchys bouncing about? Have you ever seen a Vietnamese Water Dog? Chances are you’ll see it here.
If you prefer something more exotic with considerably less hair, then fear not. A good deal of the show is hosted by Repticon in all its squiggly glory. For a nominal fee you can get a photo of a huge monitor lizard on your shoulder, or perhaps a seven foot Boa Constructor wrapped around you snugly? I’ve seen some of the most dazzling Chameleons there that can put neon signs to shame. Still not creepy enough? There are usually four tables or more celebrating the cult hobbyist world of invertebrates. This might be a good time to honor the memory of Prince by purchasing a Giant Purple Baboon Spider or a colorful and harmless Halloween Millipede.
If you still want something outside of the ordinary, there is a sea water touch tank provided by Orange Coast College Public Aquarium, and it’s stocked with sharks, rays, crustaceans and giant sea snails. All absolutely free. If your kids love fish but not crazy about touching a sea cucumber, then you can hang out in the fish section where they will be having a kids’ aquarium contest with ribbons given in three categories, such as most creative, and most naturalistic (Sorry, unless you have preregistered to have your offspring enter the aquarium contest that closed weeks ago). Still, it may inspire a family to get an aquarium, and there are many show specials.
Which leads us to the other side of the Expo: Accessories and Swag! As soon as you walk through the gate you usually receive a Pet Expo plastic bag with some info and a couple of goodies inside. The bag is going to fill up fast, especially if you stay till closing. Then people will just throw handfuls of natural kibble, Iguana vitamins, and hand made cat treats and such into your bag. There are so many bargains on tanks, cages and filters you could easily walk out with 40% off a ferret cage with a soft pirate ship play house inside.
Now, I can’t stress this one rule strongly enough and that is to leave your own cuddly pet at home. The pets on display here are calm and professional. I’ve never seen a fracas there, even though most of the food chain is represented. Speaking of food, last but not least of the attractions are the food trucks serving BBQ, perhaps a Bacon Truck and of course, deep fried White Castle Burgers and Margaritas are available in certain areas. It is the fairgrounds, after all. Did I mention you can throw ping pong balls into water filled bowls for the chance to win a free Beta fish? Whether or not you have a family to go out with to the Family Pet Expo, get yourself out to the OC Fair Grounds. The weather should be very nice.
America’s Family Pet Expo Saturday: 10am – 7pm, Sunday: 10am – 6pm. Entry is a mere $13.00 for general admittance, Seniors (That’s Me ) $11.00, Children between the ages of 6 and 12 are $8.00, kids 5 and under and Service Men both active and retired are admitted free.