I have lived in Ohio for just shy of 35 years and I have never been to the Ohio State Fair – until last year!
We had the awesome opportunity to enjoy the fair as a family and we learned A TON about how to make the most of our day.
WHEN TO GO
ASAP! Mark your calendar starting July 25. The fair ends August 5, so any day on or before then is the best day to go. With young kids, I’m a fan of starting early when it’s cooler, but the hours are pretty much 9AM-10PM every day. Check HERE for specific event times.
DMB Mom Tip: There are deals almost every single day. For example, opening day (July 25) tickets are only $3 before 3PM and July 30 adult tickets are $8 and kids 12 and under are FREE! See a complete list of discounts HERE.
[FUN FAIR FACT: The fair was held in Dayton in 1853, 1860, 1861, 1866 and 1867 and has been in Columbus since 1874!]
WHAT TO BRING
Purses, bookbags, coolers, and strollers are permitted, but they are subject to search – so leave your weapons and drones at home. 🙂 Check the weather, because it POURED rain the day we went, and we still had fun. Ponchos and rainboots make for an even better adventure!
DMB Mom Tip: Bring your own water bottles and refill them at the TONS of water fountains around the fairgrounds. All buildings, centers, or nursing stations are equipped with fountains.
WHAT TO EAT
Everything. But seriously. The fair is the ultimate excuse for a cheat day. Additionally, they have put tremendous thought into the food experiences at the fair and offer a Food Finder App. No, I am not kidding. I personally recommend the pork leg – it was absolutely delicious. New this year! Cereal and milk ice cream, tatchoes (tater tot nachoes!) and deep fried tacos, because, well, they can.
DMB Mom Tip: Stretch your dollar and look for the “Taste of the Fair” signs on food booths – these vendors are offering smaller sizes and smaller prices on lots of fair favorites.
It’s obvious that the fair has done so much to make the event family-friendly and fun for guests of all ages and ability. Here are just a few of note:
- Parking Pin! Yep, when you get to the fair, go HERE and “pin” your car so you can find it when you leave. In our deep-fried Oreo haze, this would have been helpful.
- A tractor shuttle that runs every 20 minutes – so if you end up parking far away or you want to save steps, watch for that to roll by!
- There are two air-conditioned family care stations, one in Kiddieland and the other in the Taste of Ohio Café for diaper changes and anyone who prefers to feed their baby in private.
- Additional nursing stations are in Cardinal Hall and the Bricker MarketPlace Building, plus there are free visits with lactation consultants from OhioHealth on July 29 from 11AM-1PM and August 1 from 3-5PM.
- Charging Stations
- Free WiFi in the “Food Highway”
[FUN FAIR FACT: It takes more than 2000 pounds of butter to make the “Butter Cow”!]
WHAT TO SPEND
Tickets are $10 for 13+, only $8 for ages 5-12 and kids under 5 are FREE!
Parking is $5
Food prices range. For a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) I’d plan at least $50.
Ride coupons are $1 each or “Ride All Day” bands are $25. Or plan ahead and get a ride-all-day wristband voucher for $20 at ticketmaster.com/ohiostatefair, Kroger or AAA before July 24 only.
See a complete list of discounts HERE
DMB Mom Tip: Save by going to Ticketmaster.com/ohiostatefair on your phone and pay ONLY $6/PERSON. Just show and scan your phone at the gate to enter or print the tickets at home in advance!
WHAT TO DO
With young kids, our day was mostly about seeing animals and playing games. Oh, and eating – lots of eating. Our “must do” are as follows:
- Enjoy the FREE entertainment. There are lots of entertainers just strolling the fair – impersonators, mascots, balloon artists, jugglers, and bands, just to name a few! There’s plenty of sit-down entertainment available too. Check out the Stage Entertainment HERE.
- Learn about farming. There are so many teaching moments at the fair. Like where food comes from, how farmers raise and care for animals, and how it makes its way from the farm to our table.
- Watch rescue dogs do amazing tricks like dock diving and fetching Frisbees. Yep, you read that right. Daily at 1PM, 3PM & 7PM you can enjoy tricks and family-friendly laughs.
- Be more AGRI-cultured. But seriously, don’t miss the “Land of the Living” display in the Donahey Agriculture & Horticulture building.
DMB Mom Tip: There’s some surprisingly fun entertainment in the vendor areas too (cooking demos anyone?) and lots to see INSIDE in case it rains!
[FUN FAIR FACT: Male donkeys that haven’t been neutered are called “Jack” and female donkeys are called “Jenny”]
The fair has been an Ohio family tradition for more than 150 years! It’s a tremendous opportunity to see all the things to love about Ohio in one place: hard-working farm families, incredible food and drinks, tremendous entertainment and endless family fun. The fair makes for a great family day and a lifetime of memories!
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