Self-Guided Trails

It’s the “Year of the Trails” and to celebrate we’ve come up with 4 self-guided trails throughout the most popular places and events of the Fair. From butter sculptures to pig races, we’ve got something for everyone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the Fair has to offer, be sure to try out one of these trails!

Family Fun Trail

The Fair is the perfect place to bring your family for a day of fun! Kids of all ages are welcome to explore, learn and take part in the interactive stations. This tour will put the fun in learning!

1. Ag is Cool

Stop by Cardinal Gate to grab an “Ag is Cool” passport at the Ohio Department of Agriculture tent. The passport will guide you on an educational journey throughout the Fair to see animals and speak to farmers. From noon to 4 pm stop by the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association Veterinary Education Center to milk a real cow.

2. Lausche Youth Center

Visit the Lausche Youth Center in the northwest corner of the grounds to take part in “Phun with Physics,” meet the Invention League’s Professor Prototype, explore robotics and enjoy STEAM activities. There is always a new hands-on experiment focused on science, technology, engineering and math waiting for you to try!

3. Petting Zoo

Travel across the grounds to Meijer Kiddieland and stop by the petting zoo where you and your family can pet more than 50 animals from around the world including goats, llama, zebras, antelope, camels, kangaroos and much more. 

4. Rescue Dogs in Action: The Marvelous Mutts

Can’t get enough of the cute animals? The action-packed Marvelous Mutts Dog Show takes place every day at 1 pm, 3 pm and 7pm in Meijer Kiddieland. A team of rescue dogs and their owners will wow you and your family with a combination of Frisbee, agility racing and dock diving.  

5. Natural Resources Park

When you visit the Natural Resources Park, you’ll get a peek at all the opportunities that await you in Ohio’s outdoors. Learn about Ohio’s wildlife, trees, wildflowers, water, rocks and minerals in the  education pavilion  featuring hands-on activities, visit an Ohio prairie, walk through a a house of butterflies, go fishing, learn to kayak and meet Smokey the Bear all for free. 

Fair Traditions Trail

The Ohio State Fair is full of rich history. Immerse yourself in the traditions and visit the legendary sites of the Fair! Take this self-guided tour to see the can’t-miss spots in nearly every corner of the grounds.

1. Giant Cardinal

Be sure to cross 17th Avenue into the northern area of the grounds and visit the Cardinal statue. For those entering the Cardinal Gate, the Fair’s iconic cardinal is one of the first things you’ll see – and a great “selfie” spot. The current statue was built in 1986 from fiberglass and weighs in at nearly 500lbs. Its predecessor, a mechanical, wooden and papier-mâché style cardinal, was located in the Central Park area beginning in 1957. It was electronically controlled and answered questions posed by children visiting the Fair, and at the time, was the world’s largest talking bird at 13 feet high and 23 feet long. 

2. Smokey Bear

Travel to Natural Resources Park located at the southeast corner of the grounds to visit Smokey Bear.  In 1959, fifteen years after Smokey Bear was brought into the wildfire prevention service, Smokey made his debut at the Ohio State Fair. Standing at 14-feet tall, the animatronic Smokey Bear can’t be missed. Aside from his efforts to promote fire prevention and safety practices, the iconic Smokey Bear is known for greeting Fair visitors by name, and throwing out some “beary” funny puns. 

3. SkyGlider

Tired of walking? Hop on the SkyGlider, one of the world’s longest portable sky rides, although it has been a permanent structure at the Ohio State Fair since 1969. The half-mile journey will give you a bird’s-eye view of all the excitement while also giving your feet a rest. Tickets for this attraction are $3 per rider for a one-way ride. 

4. Giant Slide

Grab a burlap sack, hike up the 105 steps and take an exciting trip down the 144-foot long slide. This big yellow slide located in Meijer Kiddieland has been a staple since 1969, and is irresistible for kids and adults alike. 

5. Butter Cow

The butter calf and accompanying sculpture can be found in the mideast area inside of the Dairy Products building.A tradition since 1903, these sculptures carved of roughly 2,000 pounds of butter have become a staple for Fair visitors. Each year, The American Dairy Association sponsors artists to create a unique butter sculpture along with a new cow and calf sculpture. This year marks the 115th anniversary of the first butter cow! 

Animal Encounters Trail

MOOve on over to the barns, petting zoo, and Natural Resources Park for a chance to observe, interact and learn about all sorts of animals! From livestock to kangaroos, you never know what creatures you might get to see and pet on this self-guided Animal Encounters Trail

1. Barns

Sheep, cattle, horses, swine, goats, llamas, rabbits and poultry are all on display in five different barns during the Ohio State Fair. Every year, more than 20,000 livestock animals are brought by exhibitors to compete over the course of the Fair. Take a walk through the barns where the animals are kept and if you’re lucky you may get to talk to some of the exhibitors too!  

2. OVMA Veterinary Education Center

Witness the miracle of birth and visit new and expectant farm animal mothers and their young at this educational exhibit near the Dairy Products Building. You can even milk a real cow from noon to 4 pm! 

3. Pig Races

Make your way to Meijer Kiddieland behind the Giant Slide to see three different breeds of pigs race around the track for a prize! Catch the Pig Races Monday – Friday at 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm or Saturday – Sunday at 11:30 am, 1:20 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm. 

4. Petting Zoo

Stop by Kiddieland to visit the petting zoo where you can visit with more than 50 animals from around the world including goats, llama, zebras, antelope, camels, kangaroos and much more.  

5. Natural Resources Park

Enjoy fishing, in the pond, visiting the butterflies in the butterfly house and taking a stroll to find native Ohio wildlife at Natural Resources Park. The park is open everyday of the Fair from 9 am – 7:30 pm. You won’t want to miss out on the animal entertainment! 

Blue Ribbon Competitions Trail From livestock and horticulture to cooking and baking, the Ohio State Fair offers just about any competition imaginable. If you want to see some blue ribbon worthy entries, this is the tour for you.

1. Cox Fine Arts Center

The Cox Fine Arts Center is tucked toward the southwest side of the grounds near the OHIO Gate. The Fine Arts exhibition is viewed by more than 40,000 visitors and received more than 1,800 entries every year. In this building you will find glass art, metal art, ceramics, sculptures, paintings and much more exhibited by Ohio’s most accomplished artists in this prestigious show. 

2. Ag & Hort Building

Located south of the Mountain Dew Midway, the Ag & Hort. Building is home to all of the Agriculture and Horticulture exhibits at the Fair. Here you will find flowers, foliage, fruits, vegetables, gardens, Christmas Trees and giant pumpkins.  

3. Lausche Youth Center

Stop by to participate in interactive activities and see competitions, projects and displays from youth organizations including Ohio 4-H, FFA and other exhibitors. Interactive exhibits and displays from The Ohio State University physics and chemistry departments, as well as the Columbus Division of Police Explorer Program for youth, will be featured. 

4. Cardinal Hall

Did someone say food? That’s right, Cardinal Hall is home to the cooking and baking competitions at the Fair along with the creative and youth arts competitions. Here you will find pies, cakes, candies, jams, jellies, wine and more! In addition to these yummy food competitions, come witness the many live culinary competitions, Brillo pad art, quilts, tablescaping, photography and more. 

Group purchase program

The Ohio State Fair is the perfect place to hold your next family reunion, group outing or summer camp trip! We offer the opportunity to purchase, in advance,discount tickets for groups of all sizes. Through the group purchase program, you can save up to $4 on each admission and up to $5 on each Midway ride-all-day wristband voucher.


2018 Forms


Fun for everyone

The Ohio State Fair has been a favorite family tradition since 1850, offering endless enjoyment:

  • Free entertainment stages
  • Educational activities
  • Sporting competitions
  • Farm animal delivery room
  • Mouthwatering fair food
  • Exciting rides
  • Free petting zoo
  • Livestock shows
  • Musicians
  • Free kiddie fishing
  • Animals
  • Comedians
  • Camel rides
  • Arts
  • Pig races

Consignment program benefits

  • Save big Save $4 on each admission ticket and $5 on each Midway ride-all-day wristband
  • Risk-free Sell or use the tickets for your group right up until the last day of the Fair, Aug. 5; after the Fair, simply return any unused tickets and you’re only financially responsible for those used
  • Plan a group getaway Gather your family for a reunion, coordinate a staff retreat, or plan a day of family fun
  • Offer an incentive Show appreciation to hard-working employees or organization members as recognition or reward
  • Offer discounts to your employees Resell Fair admission tickets (40% off gate admission) or Midway ride-all-day wristbands (a 20% savings) to your employees at a discount price

How to join the fun

Complete & return the Consignment purchase information and order form by July 11.

Picnics and shelters

If you are interested in reserving the Cardinal Shelter for a catered picnic during your visit to the Fair, please visit Concessions by Cox, call 614-297-0735 or email events@cbycox.com.