The Ohio State Fair, begun in 1850, has grown to become one of the largest state fairs in the United States. The 12-day event, held each year in early August at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, features live music; carnival rides, the best of Ohio livestock; produce, and crafts; and all the fair food you can handle. Over two million visitors attend the Fair each year. The 2012 dates are July 25 - August 4.
The Ohio State Fair celebrates Ohio-made products, companies, and skills. There are livestock exhibits, produce displays and contests, judging for a variety of culinary and craft items, and an art show. You'll also find carnival rides, food vendors, musical performances, kids contests and activities, and a variety of demonstrations.
Everyone has their favorite attraction and memory of the Ohio State Fair. Among the must-sees at the Fair are the Butter Cow, the giant Ferris Wheel, the livestock nursery (with baby animals), the Schmitz Sausage Haus bier garden, and the fine arts building. (But those are just my favorites; send me an e-mail with your favorite fair event and I'll add it to the list.)
The Ohio State Fair always has a great line-up of name entertainers. The 2011 performers include:
July 28 - Ke$sha ($32) July 29 - Tank/Chrisette Michele/Avant ($20) July 30 - Meat Loaf ($28) July 31 - Seether ($24) August 1 - David Crowder Band ($12) August 2 - Loretta Lynn/Oak Ridge Boys ($28) August 3 - Big Time Rush ($25) August 4 - Trace Atkins ($28) August 5 - O'Jays ($20) August 5 - Journey with Foreigner ($25-$75) August 6 - Melissa Ethridge ($32) August 7 - Brad Paisley ($25 - $60)
Hours and Admission:
The Ohio State Fair is open 9am to 10pm (July 27 - August 6) and 9am to 8pm on August 7. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (60+) and youths (ages 5-12), and children under 5 are free.
Parking at the Ohio State Fair is $5 per car. There is ample parking off of the 17th Avenue and 11th Avenue Exits. There are regular free shuttle buses from the parking lots to the fair entrance.
Hotels near the Ohio State Fair:
There are dozens of hotels within a 10-15 minute radius of the Expo Center. Among these are the Amerihost (check rates) just off of I-71, north of the park; the Holiday Inn Express and Suites (check rates); the University Plaza Hotel (check rates); and the Hawthorn Suites at the Continent (check rates). The Holiday Inn and the University Plaza operate guest shuttles to and from the Expo Center during the Fair.
Getting to the Fair:
It couldn't be easier to get to the Ohio State Fair from Cleveland. Just take I-71 south (or I-271 to I-71) all the way to Columbus. The Expo Center is located right off of I-71 at the 17th Avenue Exit. Follow the signs to the parking lots. It should take around 2 1/4 hours from downtown.