Updated For the 2019 Fair Season! The arrival of the fair season brings about tractor pulls, amusement park rides, funnel cakes and blue ribbons. While there are many county fairs there is only one Ohio State Fair. For first time fairgoers, imagine designer chickens, beautified bovine, cut off jeans and neon lights all with the aroma of fried food drifting through the air. That is the Ohio State Fair, my friend.
We received complimentary admission to the fair to discover unique and fun reasons why everyone should visit the Ohio State Fair.
The Butter Cow at the Ohio State Fair
Every year since 1903 the Butter cow and calf have made their appearance at the State Fair, with their permanent home being in the Dairy Products Building. It is exactly what it sounds likes. An entire cow and calf sculpted out of butter. It is truly a work of butter perfection. The tradition of the butter cow now includes additional butter sculptures relating to cultural and positive ideals in Ohio. Last year’s theme featured scenes from the popular “A Christmas Story” movie which was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio. This year is a tribute to the moon landing. Fun fact: All the butter used in the sculptures is expired and unable to be used. After the Fair, the butter is then recycled into an ingredient to make a variety of products.
The Worlds Largest Buckeye
A staple treat for all Ohioans is the buckeye. Even if you are not a fan of this peanut-buttery chocolate delicacy, most folks from Ohio can identify a Buckeye from a mile away. Since Ohio is also known as the Buckeye State, it is only fitting that it is home to the World’s Largest Buckeye. You can find it on display at the Ohio State Fair. It is in the midst of a candy shop so be prepared to be swallowed up in a sea of endless sugar and confection.
Progressive Fair Dinner
Let’s face it, one of the reasons we love the Fair is the endless bounty of fried goodness that awaits us around every bend. Speaking of Buckeyes, have them deep-fried! Want fried butter on a stick? They have that, too. It’s hard to settle on any one item, that why we opted to go with a progressive dinner. We hit the Ohio State Fair Food Highway which is lined with endless booths full of tempting treats. By splitting items we felt that it allowed us to It allowed us to try more of the scrumptious fair food. Wanna know what all we got?
What I ate at the Ohio State Fair:
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich- One of the best sandwiches at the fair. Pick yours up at the Taste of Ohio Cafe.
Beef Brisket Sandwich- You want this to put in your face immediately.
Thanksgiving at the Fair- We go this mainly for our little gal. Since I didn’t want to stuff her full of fried foods and sugar this was a great alternative. Don’t forget you can always bring food in for the little ones as well.
Deep-Fried Twinkies- Yes, and it is as glorious as it sounds. Who wouldn’t love it?!
Funnel Cake- Ummmm you can’t go to the fair and not get a funnel cake. That would be un-American! I was excited to capture Sophie in the sheer bliss of having funnel cake.
Chili Cheese Tater Tots- These and Totchos are life.
This a small fraction of the food options available at the fair. Go out and discover more exquisite fair temptations and then comment below on your findings!
The Natural Resources Park
Be sure to make time to explore the Natural Resources Park. This 4-acre park is located on the fairground and is full of great things to discover. Step foot into an aviary, try your hand at catching bluegill from the pond or simply enjoy one of the many wildlife shows. Kids will love a visit to Smokey Bear, who with the help of his friends will greet your child personally. Climb inside a boat or a ranger car as part of the touch a truck. Don’t forget that free fishing and kayaking are available. One of Sophie’s favorite things was meandering through the camper village and checking out the great camping options available!
Learn Something New
Don’t forget the State Fair is much more than rides and fried food on a stick. The competitions and displays that farmers, 4 H members, and local artisans present are a sight to behold and appreciate. The farmers take great pride in their specialties and are often willing to share and teach you all about their profession. After speaking with a local farmer about dairy cows we were given the opportunity to milk one! An experience for the books and I learned a lot about how labor-intensive owning a dairy farm can be.
My advice is to explore all the buildings and make it a point to not leave without learning a new fact or story. For families, there are tons of fun interactive exhibits that would be missed if only focusing on the amusement end of things.
The Ohio State Fair is massive, therefore we only gave you a taste of what you and your family could experience. Go and see it for yourself and make those memories that will last a lifetime.
Tips For Visiting With Young Kids
- The new nursing areas scattered throughout the fairgrounds are fabulous. These air-conditioned trailers have private rooms with couches, changing tables and toys for older siblings.
- Consider visiting during the week. The weekend tends to be the Ohio State Fair’s busiest time so beat the crowd by coming during the week. Even coming earlier in the day, can ensure lower wait time at rides and less congestion through popular fair attractions.
- Pack snacks and lunch for the kids. Bring a big water bottle and plenty of snacks to keep everyone hydrated and feed. Especially if you don’t want to have to worry about waiting in lines or hunting down healthy options for your little ones.
- Take note that when visiting with young children they might not be tall enough to ride a lot of rides. Keep them entertained by enjoying the Natural Resources Park or other activities located in the different buildings throughout the fair.
- You can always get a readmittance stamp to enter the fair. If nap time is calling, go rejuvenate and come back in the evening.
- The petting zoo and piggy races are always a family favorite.
Plan a Weekend Trip To The Ohio State Fair
My recommendation is to make the trip to the State Fair a weekend-long event. This is the ideal family weekend trip, especially if you are from Cincinnati. You can spend multiple days at the fair or go and explore other attractions in the Columbus area. COSI and the Columbus Zoo are family favorites or venture to a few offbeat sites like Corn Henge or the German Village. We recommend checking out Dublin, OH!
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