Artist John Cerney bringing agriculture to life at OC Fair

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Towering over guests at 16 feet tall, three gigantic murals celebrating three incredible farms will be hard to miss at each OC Fair entrance this year. Hand-painted by artist John Cerney and dubbed “Bounty of the County,” the murals focus on Orange County’s agricultural roots and truly speak to this year’s OC Fair theme, “Free Your Inner Farmer.”

The murals will introduce fairgoers to:

Tanaka Farms—Blue Gate, off Fair Drive

Installed on Tuesday, May 29, the Tanaka Farms mural depicts Glenn Tanaka and his son, Kenny, with a special appearance by Kenny’s son Landon, 2. Located in Irvine, Tanaka Farms is an authentic working farm established in 1940, featuring 30 acres of fruit and vegetables. For more information and tour dates, visit tanakafarms.com.

Neff Ranch—Green Gate, north of Pacific Amphitheatre

Cerney is in the process of hand painting this second of three murals. Installation is planned for mid-June. Originally established in Yorba Linda, Neff Ranch is one of the county’s last orange growers, with a 20-acre orchard featuring 4,000 Valencia orange trees. Plus, in 2003, Neff Ranch took over a Hass avocado farm in Tustin. For more information, visit neffranch.com.

5 Bar Beef—Yellow Gate (north of the Midway)

The last of the installations, 5 Bar Beef’s mural will feature the very last cattle rancher in Orange County, Frank Fitzpatrick. This real-life cowboy has brought grass-fed beef to Southern California since 1979, and can be found at the farmers markets at Laguna Hills Mall on Fridays and Irvine’s Mariner’s Church on Saturdays. For more information, or to purchase beef online, visit 5barbeef.com.

About John Cerney

Anyone who has driven through Salinas, Calif., might recognize the larger-than-life farmers along Highway 68. Originally erected in 1995, the figures are the first in a long series by Cerney. The Salinas native has projects from California to the Midwest, including a 32-foot-wide race car in Monterey, a 16-foot-tall George Harrison in Benton, Ill., and two different “Welcome to Roswell” alien scenes in New Mexico off Highway 285, one of which features a flying saucer with solar-powered LED lights.

This is the first time Cerney’s work has been featured in Orange County, though one of his murals can be found in Santa Monica. Since every project is so different, it can take anywhere from a week to several to complete each mural.

“I love painting and I’m totally committed to every (mural) I do,” Cerney said. “But I love that I’m hitting a new market in Orange County.”

The 2018 OC Fair is July 13-Aug. 12 and offers 23 days and nights of entertainment, food, rides, shopping, exhibits and more. Hours are noon to midnight Wednesdays through Fridays, and 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays. OC Fair is located off the 405 and 55 freeways at 88 Fair Dr. in Costa Mesa. For more information, visit ocfair.com or call 714-708-1500.

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