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O.C. Answer Man: Rodeos, Goat Hill, The OC

Q: Were rodeos ever held in Orange County?
A: There have been contests of skill among cowboys ever since vaqueros tended the herds of Mission San Juan Capistrano. In the rancho era, rodeos were a regular thing, and that continues today. Last month, the OC Fair & Event Center hosted an “Extreme Rodeo,” which we vainly hoped (based on the name) would involve neon-colored, energy-drink-guzzling bulls riding skateboards off huge ramps. It didn’t. And on Aug. 24 and 25, Rancho Mission Viejo in San Juan Capistrano will host “the richest two-day rodeo in the nation,” which conjures up images of business tycoons herding Beemers around a golf course. But no, these are honest-to-gosh cowboys, and the proceeds benefit local charities.

Q: Was Costa Mesa first called Goat Hill?
A: The moniker dates to the opening of Newport Harbor High School in 1930. Costa Mesa students who attended classes there derisively referred to Newport Beach as “Mackerel Flats,” and the Newport kids belittled Costa Mesa by calling it “Goat Hill.” Places that actually became part of Costa Mesa included Fairview, Paularino, and Harper. The mudslinging nicknames live on via the Goat Hill Tavern and Fairview Park’s small-scale Mackerel Flats & Goat Hill Junction Railroad.  

Q: Is it still cool to call Orange County “The OC”?
A:Was it ever cool? The phrase is rapidly joining leisure suits and aging boy bands as a source of kitschy humor. “The OC,” the 2003-07 Fox teen soap opera—which wasn’t even filmed here—was greeted with a lot of eye-rolling by most Orange County loyalists. But the phrase “The OC” was temporarily a “thing” thanks to awkward would-be-hipsters and marketers looking for faddish, pop-culture shorthand. It’s fine to abbreviate Orange County as “O.C.” (as in “L.A.” or “N.Y.”), but really, who can say “The OC” with a straight face anymore? In fact, the editor of Orange Coast has banned the phrase from the magazine, with the obvious exception of this particular instance.

Illustration by Devon Bowman

Chris Jepsen is the O.C. Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to cjepsen@socal.rr.com

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue.

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