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 2014 dates are July 23 - August 3.
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 2013 performers include:
- July 24 - Boyz II Men ($24)
- July 25 - Lady Antebellum ($45)
- July 26 - Bachmann and Turner, Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat ($28)
- July 27 - Scotty McCreery ($20)
- July 28 - Jesus Culture ($20)
- July 29 - Beach Boys/ America ($30)
- July 30 - Heart/ Joan Jett and the Blackhearts ($36)
- July 31 - Aretha Franklin ($35)
- August 1 - McClain ($12)
- August 2 - UVC 28 Professional MMA ($35-$60)
Hours and Admission:
The Ohio State Fair is open 9am to 10pm (July 23 - August 2) and 9am to 8pm on August 4. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (60+) and youths (ages 5-12), and children under 5 are free.
The Ohio State Fair offers a variety of promotions with discounted admission. Promotion Days include:
- July 23 - WBNS 10 TV Opening Day Promotion - $3 until 3pm
- July 24 - Kroger Feeds Ohio Day - Bring two canned food items for a $3 admission until 4pm.
- July 27 - Veterans and Military Day - Free admission to veterans and active military with proper ID
- July 28 - NBC4 Family Value Day - Before 6pm, adults pay the kids rate of $8 and children under 12 are free.
- July 29 - Senior Day - Seniors (age 60 and older) pay just $4 all day.
- July 30 - QFM96 Fair Attitude Wednesday - $5 for everyone all day.
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 Baymont Inn and Suites (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.