Event production and management company PSQ Productions has brought back the annual Winter Fest OC to the Costa Mesa fairgrounds.
This is the first time the festival has been held in person since 2019. PSQ anticipates around 165,000 guests for the 26-day event. The last time the festival was held pre-pandemic, it saw 100,000 attendees over 18 days.
The seasonal event contains fair rides, food booths, holiday entertainment, and snow activities, which started after Thanksgiving and runs until Jan. 1. General admission tickets are $25 for children and $30 for adults.
Due to the pandemic, the events team in 2020 and 2021 had shifted to an immersive drive-thru production dubbed the Night of Lights OC. That event saw over 37,000 vehicles come through, according to PSQ.
When designing the festival for 2022, PSQ Chief Executive Mark Entner said he made it a priority to learn from both previous Winter Fests and Night of Lights to combine the success of both formats.
This year, the festival kept the immersion of the drive-thru, but instead created a walk-through experience for guests.
“We blended the learning opportunities,” Entner told the Business Journal. “People love the traditional [parts] that comes back but they also appreciate the fresh experiences we can bring.”
Other additions this year were a new outdoor ice-skating rink, ice bumper cars and a multi-lane 150-foot-long ice tubing slide.
Dual Events Firm
Irvine-based PSQ Productions was founded by Entner in 2015, after almost 20 years with the OC Fair and Events Center.
The goal was not only to promote and market events but to also hold and produce an internal portfolio of local projects.
In order for PSQ to be both a marketer and producer, the company “needs to understand their market and how it ticks,” Entner told the Business Journal. “And what makes events relevant in OC.”
After getting involved with a few organizations in Southern California in the firm’s first year, like the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Entner found an opportunity to create OC’s first winter festival.
The first festival took place in December 2015.
The festival now requires 400 employees to operate. With a core team of 12, and 50 to 75 year-round, PSQ annually looks to the local job market to fill these roles from contractors to food and beverage workers.
“It’s great to be able to create opportunities through both sides of the business,” Entner said.
Other local partners include the Anaheim Ducks and the OC Soccer Club. PSQ is also behind events for the city of Irvine at the Great Park and the city’s Irvine Nights festival.
While open to expansion outside the region, PSQ is looking for more partnerships in the OC community to continue creating immersive activities and events like the festival.
“We’re trying to be as relevant as possible,” Entner said.