The Ohio State Fair has been a favorite Ohio tradition since 1850, but just what makes it so special and unique? Here are eight special traditions and elements of the Fair that make it a unique Ohio experience. For more information and to plan your visit, go to ohiostatefair.com.
1. All-Ohio State Fair Band & Youth Choir
The All-Ohio State Fair Band & Youth Choir has been a favorite part of the Fair for generations. The Band has been a featured attraction since 1925 and the Choir was founded in 1963. Both organizations provide young Ohio musicians and vocalists an unforgettable musical experience. Each group is comprised of approximately 200 talented students from across the state of Ohio and performs at least six times a day during the 12-day Fair duration. The All-Ohio State Fair Band and Youth Choir is the only state fair band and choir in the country.
2. Smokey Bear
Smokey Bear is a notable family tradition at the Fair unlike any other. Since 1959, Smokey Bear has been an iconic part of the Ohio State Fair as he greets young fairgoers by first name in the Natural Resources Park. The 14 ½ foot tall animatronic fire prevention icon reminds fairgoers to “never, ever play with matches or leave any fire unattended.” Smokey makes the Ohio State Fair unique as he creates a personal connection with each fairgoer and leaves a prominent mark on the Fair as a favorite family tradition.
3. Giant Slide
The Giant Slide, an Ohio State Fair landmark since 1969, is a very unique element of the Ohio State Fair. Fairgoers can grab a burlap mat and hike up 105 steps to reach the top of this unique Ohio State Fair attraction. Then, slide down the 144-foot long slide while taking in views of the Fair. The permanent structure stands tall every day of the year, but is only open to riders 12 days a year during the Ohio State Fair.
4. Ohio State Fair Concert Series
Ohio State Fair attendees have the exceptional opportunity to attend the Fair’s fabulous concert series in the indoor and air-conditioned WCOL Celeste Center. With shows every day at the Fair, there are artists for all musical tastes. This year, guests include Alabama, Gabriel Iglesias, Rascal Flatts and more. Visit ohiostatefair.com/concerts for more information and to purchase tickets.
5. Ag is Cool and Education
The Ohio State Fair offers the unique program, “Ag is Cool,” for exiting 4th graders! Interested participants can show a valid report card at the Fair’s entrance gates to receive free admission. The children can then visit the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s tent to receive a passport that will direct them on a learning adventure throughout the Fair with stations focused on beef, dairy, poultry and more. The Fair offers many other educational opportunities for attendees of all ages. Visit the barns to milk a real cow. Or, experience nature first hand in the Fair’s Natural Resources Park. Fairgoers can even conduct science experiments in the Youth Center as they take part in “Phun with Physics.” There are endless areas of learning at the Fair, something that makes it very distinct.
6. Kayak Pond
Located in the heart of the Natural Resources Park, Ohio State Fair attendees have the special opportunity to learn how to kayak at the Kayak Pond. This is a great opportunity for the young or young at heart to experience a water sport in a safe and fun Fair environment while also learning about the appropriate fit of a lifejacket. And, all the kayaks at the Fair are made of recycled materials. The Kayak Pond is open every day of the Fair from 11 am to 7 pm.
7. Ohio State Fair Official Ice Cream Flavor
For the past five years in partnership with Velvet Ice Cream of Utica, Ohio, the Fair has had a designated official ice cream flavor. This year, the 2017 Fair ice cream is Cereal & Milk. This new flavor has a sweet cereal & milk taste with a honey-graham cereal swirl. Fairgoers can give it a try at the Taste of Ohio Café, the Dairy Products Building or the Central Park Gazebo. Kari Childs of Delaware, Ohio, came up with the new flavor as she was inspired by cereal breakfasts and cartoon-watching Saturday mornings. This flavor is brand new to the Fair and is something visitors won’t want to miss.
8. Overall Ohio State Fair Atmosphere
When you walk into the Ohio State Fair, you will immediately notice something different. Sure, the Fair has all the classics – food, fun, rides, animals – but the overall Fair culture and family-friendly feeling is something that you won’t find anywhere else. Plan your visit today at ohiostatefair.com.
Bonus: Butter Cow
We may be among other large fairs to have sculptures carved of butter, but this special dairy tradition has been making the Ohio State Fair stand out since 1903. Each year, calf and cow sculptures are crafted to be displayed in the Fair’s Dairy Products Building. Approximately 500,000 people come to see the butter calf and cow every year. In addition to the calf and cow, a yearly featured sculpture is created to reflect the positive ideals and cultural trends in Ohio. Past featured sculptures include a tribute to The Ohio State University Buckeyes, a tribute to Ohio’s dairy farmers, a bald eagle and more.