A Record Breaking Year at the 2019 Courtyard

The 2019 OC Fair, now just a fading memory, is still very fresh in the minds and hearts of the 330 OCWS volunteers whose dedication and enthusiasm made this year’s Courtyard the most successful in OCWS history! With over 1,500 shifts worked at The Courtyard this year, and thousands of hours spent behind the scenes before and after the Fair, records were smashed from previous years. The Courtyard grossed the largest revenue in OCWS history.

As a partner to the OC Fair & Event Center, we run both the Commercial and Home Wine Competitions. In return, we are given the opportunity to run The Courtyard during the OC Fair, with derived income paying for both competitions and covering OCWS overhead for the following year.  Generous donations from the general public are contributed directly to the OCWS Scholarship Fund.

The success of The Courtyard is due, in no small part, to The Courtyard Committee, the cash verifiers behind the scenes, the seminar presenters, the set up and tear down crews and the Featured Winery program, along with too many other positions and programs to name, and all the OCWS volunteers who manned or maintained The Courtyard in any number of capacities.

It took every one of our volunteers, no matter how great or small the task, to make The Courtyard a success and provide the OCWS with a fabulous financial foundation going into next year.

Thank you to each every one of you who volunteered!

– Fran Gitsham & The 2019 Courtyard Committee

2019 Courtyard News: Required Training

As you may have heard, we will be using new cash registers at The Courtyard this year. The credit and debit card reader will be connected directly to the register so credit and debit card sales will not have to be entered twice. This change should really speed things up!

All managers, assistant managers, and cashiers will have to be trained on the new registers. We anticipate scheduling training sessions to begin in early February through the end of March.

We hope to have two sessions per week (depending on what is happening at the OC Fairgrounds), one on a weekday evening and one on a weekend afternoon.

We also anticipate that a training session will be no longer than 30 minutes. We are planning on having multiple sessions each day.

Please be on the lookout for an e-blast as to the training schedule.

If you are interested in being trained as a cashier, please reach out to either Fran at or Brian at

Fran Gitsham & Brian McDonald, Courtyard Chairs

2019 Courtyard: TIPS Training Alert!

Members, it’s time to start thinking about recertifying your TIPS (Alcohol Server Training) certificate. TIPS certification is valid for three years.

If you are a new member, or have never taken a TIPS training class, you will need to attend and become certified if you plan to volunteer at The Courtyard during the 2019 Orange County Fair.

As a concessionaire of the OC Fair, the OCWS must adhere to contractual requirements established by the OC Fair Board of Directors and Staff. Before any volunteers work in The Courtyard during the OC Fair, everyone must be “professionally trained and certified in alcohol awareness techniques.”

Click here for Class schedules.

– Rochelle Randel – TIPS Trainer
– Marcy Ott – Badging Coordinator

2019 Courtyard at the OC Fair

Our biggest fundraiser of the year will be upon us sooner than we can imagine, and the foundation for this year’s success has now been in the works for several months. As most of you already know, it takes several hundred OCWS volunteers to run The Courtyard each year. For your planning purposes, please keep in mind the following:

  • This year’s OC Fair runs from July 12 through August 11
  • Invitations to those of you being invited to manager, cashier or steward will be emailed by the end of January
  • Sign-ups for managers will begin on April 1
  • Sign-ups for cashiers and stewards will begin on April 15
  • Sign-ups for servers will begin on May 1

One very exciting and much needed addition this year will be new, integrated cash registers/credit card machines. Anyone invited to manage or cashier will be required to be trained on the new machines sometime in February or March in order to be assigned requested shifts. Dates for these sessions will be provided in your invitation. It is of the utmost importance that everyone is properly trained this year.

We will also be having, as in the past few years, training sessions for stewards and servers sometime in June and early July and will gladly train anyone else at that time interested in learning the new registers with the intention of possibly cashiering. These dates will be posted at a later time.

We look forward to your participation and all the fun and laughter that go along with working The Courtyard during Fair time. Thank you.

Fran Gitsham & Brian McDonald, Courtyard Chairs

2018 Wine Label & Bottle Design Competition

This Competition gives recognition to outstanding label and bottle designs for California wines entered in the Commercial Wine Competition each year, in support of winery interests in creating eye appeal, easy recognition, and promotional value for their wines. The emphasis here is on the artistic and expressive visual presentation of the wines on initial contact by the wine enthusiast at retail or their home, in addition to the intrinsic value of each wine tasted and savored when enjoyed.

Wineries entering their wines for the Commercial Wine Competition are encouraged to submit four labels for each entry. The Commercial Label Committee, comprised of OCWS members with backgrounds in visual and graphic arts, assigns each label to one of 11 categories, including Best Use of Color, Contemporary Design, Figurative, Flora, Special Effects, Thematic Series, and others. Of the grouping in each category, the Committee selects ten highest valued labels to present for judging by OCWS membership. The bottles are identified upon receipt as exceptionally designed, including two-toned glass, wax dripping over cork, glow in the dark graphics, uniquely shaped, and other fascinating features.

OCWS members and guests attending and participating in the 2018 Commercial Wine Competition the first weekend of June this year reviewed the selected labels and voted on the top three in each category, which by their vote counts were then awarded First, Second and Third Place in each category. The winery is then acknowledged with an Award Letter and a Gold, Silver or Bronze Medal for their winning labels (an actual thick, metallic medal about 2.5” in diameter on a dark blue striped ribbon).

All label winners are displayed on two large, black boards on the eastern display wall at The Courtyard for the duration of the Fair for all attendees to view and enjoy. We hope you each will appreciate these exceptional winery achievements in label creativity by visiting the Label Award displays at The Courtyard!

If you don’t get a chance to view the Label Award displays while visiting The Courtyard, the Label Award winners can be located on the website under the Commercial Wine Competition section, in the link identified as 2018 Award Book.

– Kathryn Hansen

Image is of Best of Show Label Winner Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards.

The Courtyard Sign-Ups

Sign ups for The Courtyard will be online starting May 1. Shifts are generally filled on a first-come basis, so if you have favorite shifts, it is best to sign up […]
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