In a special salute to Orange County’s foster children and those adopted from foster care, the Orange County Fair hosted a special night for the children and their families on Thursday, July 14…the day before the fair’s official opening.

Among the 8200 special guests were many Kinship Center foster and adoptive families, who turned out in force to enjoy the evening’s free rides, entertainment, and dinner served by Orange County appointed and elected officials. (Below, a few officials took time out to pose with some Kinship Center children and parents.) For these families it was all about the kids.

“It was a great night for my kids to get the full run of the fair rides after a festive dinner and a show,” said Kinship Center Board member Jim Bieber, who is also an adoptive dad. “I’m so grateful to Dave Ellis, OC Fair Board Chairman and to everyone who contributed to this amazing night. What a wonderful innovation and a testament to the families all over the County who step forward to care for a child who needs a safe home.”

Bieber worked with other local Kinship Center Board members and staff to publicize the event for Kinship Center families who have made loving homes for the County’s foster children.  “These families are unsung heroes,” said Kinship Center Regional Executive Director Del Stewart (front row, second from left), who manages specialty mental health clinics in Tustin and Anaheim that treat more than 400 children each week who have experienced severe abuse, neglect and abandonment from their birth families. “Children with the scars of past trauma present special parenting challenges to foster and adoptive families. There aren’t always a lot of light moments, so the special evening at the fair was a real gift. I saw non-stop smiles from our kids and families for more than five hours.”

Lending some helping hands and culinary expertise were OC Fair Board members and their families, members of the State Assembly, members of the Board of Supervisors, mayors and council members from various Orange County cities, as well as other appointed and elected officials. To a person, these public servants were there on behalf of the kids, rolling up their sleeves not just to serve food but to ensure that families had a good time.

A final gift of the evening was return passes for families to enjoy the fair through mid-August. “I can’t say enough to thank the fair for their generosity and all the elected officials and VIP’s who gave their time to bring so much pleasure to our children and their parents,” said Stewart. “It was definitely a ‘Fair to Remember’!”


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