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Open Letter to the O. C. Fair

Hello. I am an Orange County local, and look forward to attending the O.C. Fair every year. Today, August 4, was my first chance to visit this year. I am a hobbyist photographer, so I bring my camera with me everywhere I go. I had a wonderful time at the Fair during the day. I was even informed by a helpful entertainer about the Many Faces Of The Fair Photo Contest. I was very excited to learn about this competition. I went directly to the Visual Arts exhibit, and they happily gave me an entry form and showed me the slide show of previous entries. This sounded like a great opportunity!

We left the Fair midday to return home for lunch and a rest. When we returned, I brought along my tripod in order to get some great night shots to match the fun day shots I had taken. Shortly after returning, I was setting up a shot of one of the attractions. Before I was able to take a photo, a Ray Cammack Shows, Inc. employee jumped in front of me, and told me that photography of the rides was strictly forbidden. I politely asked him where this rule was posted, so I would know what I was allowed to shoot. He aggressively told me it is posted, but wouldn’t tell me where. “Our rides, our rules. I’m not kidding.”, I was informed. I was very disappointed. He would not tell me why photography wasn’t allowed, nor did I see him stopping anyone else from taking photographs using cameras or cell phones. I picked up my tripod, and moved along, without taking my shots.

A short time later, as I was using my tripod to take photos (not of the rides), two OC Fair Event staffpersons approached me, and informed me that tripod photography was not allowed without a media pass. This is different than what the RCS person told me, so I didn’t feel like I was trying to break the rules. I again asked the woman where this policy was written, so that I would know what I was allowed to shoot. She told me that the rules were in the administration office, and I would need to check in with them. I told her that if tripods were not allowed, then A., there should be signage at the entrances prohibiting them (there is none), and B. the security screeners at the entrances should have prevented me from bringing them in (they did not). She rudely told me that “since you have now been told the rules, any further action will get you 86’ed from the fair”.

After being completely disheartened, we proceeded to walk across the entire fairgrounds to the Administration office, only to learn they were closed. The helpful attendant at the gate nearby radioed Guest Services, and asked about the policy. He was told that indeed tripods were not allowed without permission, and I would need to check back during business hours. I thanked him for the information, and we reentered the fair, frustrated by the experience. We ended up leaving very soon after, without experiencing any more of the fair.

I have a complaint I would like to raise with you.

If a media pass is required for photography, there should be a notification of that on the website, the fair entrance, the guidebook, the ticket, anything. The only place I could find that listed any sort of pass is the OC Fair & Event Center Press Credential Policy and Request Form (http://www.ocfair.com/ocf/AboutUs/PressRelease/CredentialRequest.asp). This appears to be for people of media outlets, which I am not. I am an amateur photographer who will not submit any of my photographs for profit. There is nothing in that policy about average fair patrons and the use of tripods. (Although the reverse of the ticket states that cameras or recording devices may not be brought onto the premises. I saw no effort in enforcing that.) Also, there is no indication that photographs of the rides are not allowed. I will be taking this matter up with RCS directly.

I have Google searched “OC Fair Tripod”, OC Fair Photo Policy”, “OC Fair Media Policy”, and many other search strings. Nowhere can I find any official policy that states anything about tripods.

I am completely disappointed with my fair experience. If you require a media pass for professional photography, fine. I understand that. I, however, am not a professional photographer. I do not feel I was in violation of any rules. And if it turns out that I was, there is certainly no way for me to know, other than by being threatened with expulsion by aggressively rude event employees.

If you feel that I am in error (or if your employees are in error), please contact me about this. I would hate for this one event to ruin my opinion of the fair.

Sincerely,

Chris Perley

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