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State fair offers thrills, food, fun
Saddle up the family car, gather up the kids, grab your wallets and purses and head out to a 155-year-old celebration of the best Ohio has to offer in agriculture, arts, crafts, food and entertainment.
It's time for the annual Ohio State Fair.
The 12-day run of the fair starts July 30 and goes through Aug. 10. Opening day features free admission for 30 minutes following a 9 a.m. ceremony at the Cardinal Gate, followed by $3 admission until 3 p.m. Veterans and active duty service members, with proper identification, are admitted free on Aug. 3.
Adults pay the kid's $8 admission price until 6 p.m. on Aug. 4 and there is no entry fee for kids 12 and younger. It is buy one, get one free for midway thrill seekers until 6 p.m.
Additional reduced admission specials are offered throughout the course of the fair. Regular gate prices are $10 for adults 13-59, $8 for youth 5-12 and seniors 60 and over, and free for children under five. All-day ride wristband vouchers, redeemable at the fair, are $17-a $3 discount-at Kroger and Ticketmaster outlets through July 29.
Plenty of thrills
More than 10 new rides, including the Viper and the Heartbreaker-a whipping thrill venue seating more than 20 across-await the adventurous, along with Kayak for Kids in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Park where younger fairgoers can splash in the water while safely learning how to guide a kayak.
The Army's Green Beret parachute team launches overhead for a display of mid-air talents and talented kids plod through prodigious word lists in a Spelling Bee at the Rhodes Center. Get an up close look at bears at the Big Bear Show and Grizzly Falls presentation north of the Celeste Center.
Fresh sounds and big entertainment
New bands grace stages throughout the Expo Center grounds including Fade to Blue, Athens' former Battle of the Bands champion featuring pop-rock; Jason Jones, a singer/songwriter offering original music; country and southern rock band Lakewood Road; and Star Search, Nashville Star, and Grand Ole Opry guitarist Les Richardson.
Big name entertainment takes the stage inside the air-conditioned Celeste Center. On July 30, fairgoers have the opportunity to see the live taping of a television show and chances to win prizes during the Cash Explosion Road Show. Doors open at 1:45 and 6 p.m. and admission is free.
Melissa Etheridge performs on Aug. 2 at 7 p.m., $30; the All-Ohio State Fair Band and Youth Choir is in concert on Aug. 3, 1 p.m., free; and Christian artist TobyMac, with a blend of rock, hip-hop, funk, and soul, performs Aug. 4, $12.
It is a double header on Aug. 5 when the Four Freshmen-with roots going back to 1948-present a free concert at 1 p.m., followed by Peter Frampton at 7:30 p.m., $20. The Oak Ridge Boys and the Charlie Daniels Band perform Aug. 7, 7 p.m., $25; 10-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan is on stage Aug. 8, 7 p.m., $20; Ted Nugent performs Aug. 9, 7 p.m., $20; and the fair concludes with the annual Sale of Champions Livestock Auction on Aug. 10, 2 p.m., free.
Out of this world
Outreach to Space provides youth the opportunity to experience space exploration while their feet are firmly planted on the ground at Outreach to Space. The exhibit offers experiments in gravity, practice in launching space rockets, spacecraft landing, and a chance to experience the difficulties of working in a space suit.
Kids can also explore Astronomy for Youth inside an inflatable planetarium and witness demonstrations on how craters form on the moon, our solar system, and aliens from the deepest reaches of space.
...and even more fun
Closer to earth, but still nearby is the DiSalle Center, where seamstresses and tailors of all ages display their skills in fashion shows starting Aug. 2 and home chefs cook up a cupboard full of food. Award-winning examples of painting, woodworking, scrapbooking, photography, sculpting, jewelry, and leather are presented in the DiSalle and Cox Fine Arts centers.
The first of its kind 5K Fair Run starts in front of Crew Stadium at 8 a.m. on Aug. 2 and races along the length of the fair.
Ohio Roller Girls demonstrate their Derby techniques, Corn Hole game lovers can try their luck and win prizes, and jump rope pros skip into action in Double Dutch.
When it is time to cool off or stop for a break, grab a cheese sandwich and visit the Butter Cow, a tradition started in the early 1900s when the Ohio State University and Ohio dairy processors sponsored butter sculpting contests at the fair. The Butter Cow-joined by a butter calf-eventually found a "permanent" home in the Dairy Products Building and is on display during the fair.
The "Barn," situated in the heart of the fairgrounds, is home to Heartland Cuisine cooking demonstrations and also features specialty foods from Ohio animal, dairy, and crop producers.
Fair gates open at 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., except on Aug. 10 when the gates close on at 8 p.m. Parking is available for $5 with easy access to lots at the 17th Avenue and Hudson Street exits. Handicap parking is also available and a complimentary shuttle takes passengers to and from the main entrance gate.
Strollers, wagons, wheelchairs, and locker rentals are provided the Cardinal and Ohio gates. Free, on-grounds shuttles make frequent stops around the perimeter of the fair from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For information, contact the Ohio State Fair/Expo Center at 644-FAIR or online at ohiostatefair.com.
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