Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Top 10 At The Ohio State Fair

Photo by OHventures

The Ohio State Fair is one of the biggest and best fairs in the country. It's the ideal setting for Ohio to show off its strong agricultural spirit. It spans 12 days in early August each year and attacts approximately 800,000 fairgoers! Now that's a lot of people! It fittingly takes place at Ohio Expo Center located in North Columbus at 717 East 17th Avenue. Since the fair is so incredibly enormous, you will surely need a map of the fair as well as a handy dandy guide from OHventures telling you the Top 10 Things To Do At The Ohio State Fair! Check it out! Hurry, there are still a few days left!

1. People Watch: Let's face it. Most of the time, people watching is more fun than animal watching no matter where you are! The Ohio State Fair tends to attract a certain clientele that is especially fun to watch. You know, the kind you are likely to find on "People of Walmart" or "Goths in Hot Weather"? Those sites come alive in full color when you go to the fair! Throw them in along with the carnie folks who travel from fair to fair and you've got the best people watching stage at your fingertips. While you're at it, you may as well go mullet hunting too!

2. Try Crazy Foods: No doubt one of the best things about going to the fair is gorging on gobs and gobs of grossly unhealthy grub! Skip the french fries and pasta: you can get those anywhere! Go out on a limb and try the food oddities that can only be found in the fair! There's the traditional favorites like funnel cakes, corndogs, and cotton candy. But there's also the food that seems like it came from another planet, most of which is deep fried: fried pickles, deep fried Oreos, and deep fried S'mores are my personal favorites. This hot item this year that's been getting all the buzz is deep fried Kool Aid. You heard me right. They will deep fry anything these days! Another hot item is the chocolate covered bacon, affectionately called "muddy pigs." I tried some of these (pictured above) and they were pretty decent! Two great foods combined into one! There are also some fun non-deep fried foods I would suggest: roasted corn on the cob (still in the husk), roast beef sundaes (mashed potatoes, gravy, roast beef, and a cherry tomato on top), and pierogies. It's ALL about the food at the fair, isn't it?!

3. Ride the Sky Ride: This is pretty much the only ride acceptable for adults, and probably one of the only rides kids would find uninteresting. It isn't so much thrilling as it is relieving: your sore footsies can get a rest for a while as you are transported to the other side of the fair in half the time as it would take you to walk! You also get more of a breeze atop the high wire, and a pretty nice view so you can plan out your next step. It's a small price to pay for such great relaxation!

4. Get a New Ohio Map: Of course OHventures would tell you to go grab a BRAND NEW Ohio map at the Ohio State Fair! There's no where else you can get 'em yet, as they were just printed the day before the fair began. Ohio Governor John Kasich presented the new maps at the opening of the fair, which can be found at the Ohio Department of Transportation booth located in the (nicely air conditioned) Marketplace building. You'll definitely want to get the most up-to-date state map, which is not only colorful and pretty to look at, but functional and a MUST have for your car when taking road trips! While you're at the ODOT booth, you might also want to play the video game they have this year sponsored by Nationwide Insurance. It is a "Distracted Driver Simulator" that has you take a shot at texting and driving. The results are most of the time pretty ugly, a message everyone should take to heart in real life!

5. Visit the Butter Cow: No visit to the Ohio State Fair would be complete without stopping by to gawk at the famed Butter Cow! Every year a slightly different cow is carved out of a huge chunk of butter (1,550 pounds of the creamy stuff to be exact). The cow is stunning, and it is rather remarkable that an artist could make something so detailed and precise out of such an unusual medium! It can be found in the Dairy Barn and is sponsored by the American Dairy Association. It definitely pays homage to the booming dairy industry in the state and how important it is to our economy. It makes you wonder what exactly happens to the butter cow at the end of the year? Hmmm...

6. Visit a Real Cow: The smell of the animal barns may not be so pleasant, but that's all a part of the experience, right? If you're able to stomach it, definitely take a look at the various livestock, poultry, equine, and swine that are being shown off throughout the fair. Some of them are pretty, while some are not so pretty. But they are definitely worth a look! These animals are truly the heartline of the state fair, and many of them are award winners! Just be sure to watch your step...and to use some hand sanitizer!

7. Feed the Animals: For a buck or two, you can buy some carrots or grains and feed some of the animals! This may seem like a rather child-like thing to participate in, but it really is something for all ages. Pictured above, my friend Anna is feeding carrots to a goat! It's really neat to interact with the farm animals in such a way. It may be common for country mice, but for city guys like myself, it's a true treat. The feeding locations typically coincide with petting zoos scattered throughout the fair.

8. Plan an OHventure: The Ohio Division of Travel & Tourism (Discover Ohio) has really outdone themselves with the booths and exhibits they have in the Marketplace at the fair. Maybe it's just me that gets all giddy about this, but visiting these booths and getting brochures, booklets, pamphlets, fliers and magazines dedicated to everything Ohio tourism is like being a kid in a candy store! Every OHventurer must stop here to snatch up this free info on everything from wineries and ziplines to Amish Country and camping! You'll be thrilled to find all of the great things Ohio has to offer tourists right in front of your face! An added bonus? It's air conditioned!

9. Find Your County Bench: The 8-acre Natural Resources Park located on the fairgrounds of the Ohio Expo Center is one of my absolute favorite spots at the fair. This year, they will be giving people under the age of 18 the opportunity to ride on canoes and kayaks on the paddle pond as part of their Explore The Outdoors campaign. But fear not! If you are over 18 (which likely you are), then you can still enjoy the wildlife exhibits and hiking path found within the park. For added fun, try locating your county bench! There are 88 benches lining walking paths within the Natural Resources Park, all with names of Ohio counties. It took me forever to find my home county (Trumbull) but that made it that much more fun!

10. Watch The Fireworks: This year, there will be fireworks at the end of every night of the fair! You don't have to be in the fair to actually see the fireworks of course, but having them light up the midway games and rides is pretty cool, and a perfect way to conclude your fair experience.

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