I can still remember visiting the Ohio State Fair as a child! From the twinkling lights of the games and amusement rides of the Midway, the smell and taste of fair food, visiting the animals, watching livestock shows and sitting on my father’s shoulders to catch a glimpse of New Kids on the Block (almost every child of the 1990’s can remember a NKOTB song!), I smile at the wonderful memories our family created at the Ohio State Fair!
Fast forward many years to the 2016 Ohio State Fair. I had the opportunity to attend the opening day of the Ohio State Fair and created new fair memories with my sister-in-law, niece and nephew. We spent the day exploring all the wonderful activities, events and food the Ohio State Fair has to offer!
We had so much fun at the fair! Here are a few of our favorite fair activities:
Free Fair Shuttle:
A great way to start your Ohio State Fair experience is on the free Fair Shuttle. With shuttle stops located at almost every major attraction, you will get a great lay-of-the-land during a ride around the perimeter of the fairgrounds. And if your feet get tired of walking, hop on the shuttle for a relaxing ride to your next destination! Shuttle hours are 10am-10pm (11pm Friday and Saturday).
Visiting the animals and watching the livestock shows:
Although the lights of the Midway and amusement rides shine bright, the Ohio State Fair is a celebration of Ohio’s agriculture! A visit to the fair is a great opportunity, for those who may not otherwise have a chance, to get up close and personal with the various species of livestock represented at the fair. With more than 20,000 animals exhibited at the fair, take the time to stroll the barns, watch a livestock show, ask questions and get to know the future generation of Ohio’s agriculture! As a former 4-H and FFA member myself, I know how hard the kids work on their animal projects and most kids would love an opportunity to talk about their fair projects with you!
There are lots of programs for kids to get hands-on experience with the animals! Check out the Ag is Cool Interactive Education Stations (grab an Ag is Cool Passport at various locations throughout the fair), Ohio Farm Bureau Land and Living Exhibit (Nationwide Donahey Ag & Hort Building), OVMA Veterinary Education Center (kids can milk a cow at the Wick Pavilion near the Dairy Products Building) and visit the Petting Zoo in Kiddieland.
Did you know that the butter cow and calf sculpture has been a yearly tradition at the Ohio State Fair since 1903?! Last year, artists worked over 500 hours and utilized 2,000 pounds (nearly 8,000 sticks!) of butter for the popular butter sculpture! Each year a new theme is designed, reflecting positive ideals and cultural Ohio trends. This year the butter cow and calf are celebrating the win of the NBA Champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers! You will find the butter cows celebrating the Cav’s win in a 45°F controlled room at the Dairy Products Building. Make sure to take a picture in front of the butter cow!
If you are on Snapchat (follow me at ohiogirltravels), utilize the cute Geo-filter celebrating the “legenDAIRY” butter cow and snap a selfie with the butter sculpture! Or download the free Ohio State Fair mobile app to find lots of great fair photo filters as well!
Before you leave the Dairy Products Building, grab a scoop or two of Ohio’s own Velvet Ice Cream!
You can’t visit the Ohio State Fair without eating fair food! Whether you crave French fries, funnel cakes, elephant ears, deep-fried Oreo’s or Buckeyes (the fair is deep-fried food paradise!), ice cream, candy, lemon shake-ups, 32 types of food on a stick or any food you can imagine, you will find it at the fair!
If you are looking for good food and to support Ohio’s agriculture, I would suggest visiting the Taste of Ohio Café. The air-conditioned building has plenty of seating to enjoy a great meal from Ohio’s dairy, beef, lamb, poultry or pork producers. Also, grab a glass of an Ohio craft beer or an Ohio wine to accommodate your meal!
The highlight for most children at the fair is the amusement rides. The Ohio State Fair has two sections of rides, Kiddieland and the Mountain Dew Midway. With my niece and nephew being 8 and 9, we stayed in Kiddieland, where they rode just about every ride they could see multiple times! Including the very popular Giant Slide! Climb 105 steps to the top then slide down the 144-foot long slide on a burlap mat! Riding the Giant Slide is a fair tradition!
Ride tickets are $1/ticket, each ride takes a various amount of tickets. Ride-All-Day Wristband Vouchers cost $25 (includes the Giant Slide!). Amusement rides are open 10am-11pm Sunday-Thursday and 10am-midnight Friday and Saturday.
Riding the Buckeye Health Plan SkyGlider:
The SkyGlider at the Ohio State Fair is one of the longest portable sky rides in the world! With access points at the Cardinal Gate and in Kiddieland, hop on for a half-mile journey high above the fair! With gorgeous views of Columbus’ skyline and panoramic views of the fairgrounds, riding the SkyGlider is a must when visiting the fair! One-way tickets are $3 per person, I would recommend taking a round-trip ride to capture all of the fantastic views! The SkyGlider operates from 10am-11pm Sunday-Thursday and is open till midnight Friday and Saturday!
We were able to just brush the surface of what the 2016 Ohio State Fair has to offer! Other fair activities include: Central Ohio Model Railroad Club Exhibit (located in Cardinal Hall, Hall C), Jumbo Tic-Tac-Toe (located in Central Park), Natural Resources Park, coloring on the Monster Mural (located in Central Park), the numerous strolling entertainers (stilt walkers, magicians, character mascots, musicians and many more walk the fairgrounds throughout the day), daily parade at 4pm featuring fair mascots, local celebrities and honorees, entertainment, musicians and the All-Ohio State Fair Band and the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir (Did you know that the Ohio State Fair is the only state fair in the country to have its own band and choir?! Congrats to the Ohio high schoolers whom comprise the band and choir!). Check out the Ohio State Fair Concert Series featuring many big named entertainers such as Charlie Puth, Maddie & Tae, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Keith Sweat, Jeff Dunham and many more!
*Download the free Ohio State Fair mobile app before your visit! With great features like: Park and Pin to easily find your car at the end of the day, Fair Food Finder to locate all the delicious goodies throughout the fair, daily schedules, fair updates, maps and awesome fair filters to utilize while snapping the perfect fair selfie! (Don’t forget to use the hashtag #OhioStateFair when sharing your pictures on social media and follow @OhioStateFair on social media!). Worried about Wi-Fi? No problem, a free outdoor Wi-Fi Zone is located between the WCOL Celeste Center and the Bricker Marketplace Building. There are also complimentary charging stations throughout the fair to power up all of your electronics (phones, tablets, and cameras)!
*The 2016 Ohio State Fair runs July 27 through August 7. Admission is $10 for Adults (ages 13-59), $8 for Seniors (ages 60+) and $8 for Children (ages 5-12, children under 5 are free), parking is $5. Fair hours are 9am-10pm, rides are operated until 11pm (midnight on Friday and Saturday). The Ohio State Fair is located at 717 East 17th Avenue Columbus, Ohio 43211. For more information, please visit www.ohiostatefair.com.
**No summer is complete without a visit to the Ohio State Fair! Therefore, I am giving away a pair of 2016 Ohio State Fair tickets! To enter complete these two easy steps for your chance to win: **GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED!**
1. Like Ohio Girl Travels on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ohiogirltravels)
2. Subscribe to Ohio Girl Travels’ email newsletter (I promise I won’t flood your email with spam!). Find the subscription sign-up box under the About Me! picture on the upper right hand corner of this page or on the mobile page scroll down towards the bottom and find the box under the About Me! picture. Please be sure to add your name and email address, this is how I will contact the winner!
*If you have previously liked Ohio Girl Travels on Facebook and subscribed to the email newsletter, comment on this post why you want to visit the 2016 Ohio State Fair and you will be entered in the drawing!
*Since the fair is only until August 7th, winner will be notified on Friday, July 29th at 2pm! Only Ohio residents are eligible. Good luck! 🙂
A visit to the 2016 Ohio State Fair will be full of family fun, good food and a chance to explore Ohio’s agriculture, providing a lifetime of fair memories!
Thanks for reading!