July 26 – August 6, 2023
There has not been a year since my birth that I haven’t attended our county fair. And while our county fair is one of the top fairs in the country, our state fair is equally awesome. We live in the great state of Ohio, and The Ohio State Fair in the state’s capitol, Columbus, OH, is a must-do as it is one of the largest state fairs. But before I tell you all about the fair, let me encourage you to make sure to read until the end to make sure you find out all about the free things at the fair.
For My Readers with Children Who Have Sensory Issues
The Ohio State Fair has a sensory-friendly morning on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, from 10 am-1pm. This means that the volume and lights have been lowered to make a more sensory-friendly atmosphere. Ride the rides with no flashing lights or music. Take a break in a quiet room. Print social narratives. Use the accessibility guide to find other Fair opportunities. Get a permit that will allow you to park in special area parking lots.
Admission Times & Building Openings
Gate Admission: Monday – Friday 10 am – 9 pm; Saturday & Sunday 9 am – 9 pm. (Gates close at 6 pm on Sunday, August 6).
Gate admission prices:
Adults (ages 13-59) $12 ticket price
Youth (ages 6-12) $10 ticket price
Senior (ages 60+) $10 ticket price
Children 5 and under – Free
General Parking – Free
Commercial Exhibit Buildings are open from 10 am – 9 pm
Mountain Dew Midway & Meijer Kiddieland:
Ride-All Day Wristband $35
Advance Sale Ride All Day Wristbands $32 (available online through July 25th)
Individual ride tickets $1 each – All rides require 3 or more tickets.
Free Parking: General parking is free in the main lots north of the Cardinal Gate. Reserved parking is not available to the general public. Accessible parking is available in the main parking lots.
THINGS TO DO AT THE OHIO EXPO CENTER & STATE FAIR
First, if you have ever attended your county fair, you will see exhibits from people living in your area. There is food, animals, art, concerts, rides, food, and more food. But at the State Fair, you will see the best of the best from the state. This is a great way to experience a little bit of everything from the Great State of Ohio! These are the best exhibits, the best animals, new foods, and unique shows.
Attending the Ohio State Fair is a favorite family tradition.
Some attractions that have a fee associated with them:
Camel rides & helicopter rides.
Carnival Rides including a Ferris wheel (is it even a fair without a ride on the Ferris Wheel?), giant slide, ski lift, and more.
Additionally, fairs (state and county) have great concerts. Make sure to check out the talent coming to the Ohio State Fair.
Lost Children at the Ohio State Fair
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has two booths at The Ohio State Fair. The booth can be found at the main entrance gates (Cardinal and OHIO Gates). “Lost Kid Tags” are available for your child. These tags help identify your child if he or she gets separated from you.
EXHIBITS at the Ohio State Fair:
My very favorite area of the Ohio State Fair is the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. This natural resources park is in the corner of the fairgrounds and is dedicated to natural resources which includes a fishing experience, a kayaking area, shooting and archery, and a nice cool area to relax. This beautiful eight-acre park has something for the whole family.
FOOD at the Fair:
I love fair food, but as a person who needs to be gluten-free, most of the items I love are not gluten-free safe food. But I remember how they tasted. Inky Dinky Donuts is one of our family must-stops. Make sure to check out the food Vendor Map which includes dietary-restriction friendly foods.
There are amazing food vendors, and many times “new fair foods” are first introduced at The Ohio State Fair or other state fairs.
Some of the new tastes at the Ohio State Fair for 2023 include such delicacies as: Cookie Dough Explosion, Lemon Shake Cream Puff, a Nacho Sundae, a crawfish boil, mac and cheese bowl, cotton candy deviled eggs and other daily flavors such as chocolate s’mores, Flaming Hot Cheeto Burger, fresh squeezed blue raspberry lemon shake, and gelato tacos.
Furthermore, there are options for dairy-free, tree nut-free, and gluten-free foods.
Gluten-Free Options include: Roasted sweet corn and other products made with corn such as tacos, or nachos.
French Fries – French fries are usually gluten-free.
Frozen Drinks – Most syrups for slushies, snow cones, and Kona Ice are gluten-free.
Ice cream – Ice cream may be an option for those with gluten sensitivities. Make sure to ask the vendor about the ingredients because some ice cream is made with fillers that contain gluten.
Meat –Turkey legs, sausage, burgers, and steak sandwiches (without buns) may be good options
Roasted nuts and peanut products
Beverages – Lemon shakes, ice teas, and sodas/pop may all be gluten free
Make sure to check with each vendor for their accommodations.
Some of the top acts in the country perform at The Ohio State Fair. The 2023 Ohio State Fair Concert Series lineup includes Kidz Bop, Clint Black, Third Eye Blind, Keith Sweat, Yung Gravy and BBNO$, Casting Crowns, Ludacirs, Styx, and more. There is an additional charge outside of your fair entry tickets for concerts, but make sure to get your concert tickets early. Previous years’ entertainment have included Toby Keith, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner.
In addition to the concerts, there are also various live music performances, such as the All-Ohio State Fair Band. This year look for 1964 The Tribute (Beatles Tribute Band). These free music performances can be found around the fairgrounds at various times.
The Butter Cow and other figures are absolutely amazing. Full-sized sculptures out of sweet cold butter! These butter sculptures are truly a sight to behold; besides the butter cow, there are new unique ones each year. Previous year’s sculptures featured A Christmas Story, which was a big hit and included the leg lamp, Ralphy in the bunny costume, a Christmas tree, and even a cow and Flick who have their tongues stuck to a pole. They can be located in the Dairy Products Building – make sure to get some yummy ice cream.
Since there are so many things to do at the fair, I can’t share them all with you. In fact, my post only includes a small snippet of all the amazing sites, smells, and a variety of activities. For example, Lady Houdini – escape artist performs daring acts. The Lumberjack Show entertains with log rolling, wood chopping and other lumbering activities. The Marvelous Mutts perform canine tricks. All this entertainment is free. Make sure to get a times guide to see when and where all the activity happens.
Iconic Smokey the Bear stands at the entrance to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources area. The animatronic figure stands 14 ft. tall, and greets visitors by their first name.
Before visiting, take a peek at some of the exhibits and attractions and make sure to check operating times because not all exhibits are open during the entire fair hours. Of course, there is so much to do at the fair that you will need more than one day to see it all!
FREE THINGS TO DO AT THE OHIO STATE FAIR
- OHIO DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AREA
- Free KAYAKING (and they even provide you with the life jacket)
- Free ARCHERY
- Free SHOOTING
- Free FISHING
- BUTTERFLY HOUSE
- FIND YOUR COUNTY BENCH AND TAKE A PHOTO
- WATCH THE INKY DINKY DONUTS BEING MADE (Warning: this will cause you to want to buy them to eat them).
- TAKE A PHOTO WITH THE GIANT CARDINAL
- LIVE BANDS INCLUDING THE OHIO STATE FAIR BAND AND YOUTH CHOIR
- SEE THE LIFE-SIZED BUTTER COW AND OTHER SCULPTURES
- Paint on the Monster Mural
- Smokey Bear
- Nasa Journey to Tomorrow Exhibit
- Touch a Truck
- Ohio State Beekeepers
- Amazing Giants – Sky-high stilt walkers stroll the Fair
- HUMAN CANNONBALL
- Witness the miracle of birth and see a baby animal being born
- CHECK OUT THE GRAND CHAMPION ANIMALS – STEERS, PIGS, LAMB
- Lumberjack Show – A rip roaring family-friendly show
- HANDS ON AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENTS
- MILK A COW
- Free Petting Zoo
- Pig Races
- Strolling Piano
- A real escapologist Lady Houdini
- The Marvelous Mutts
- VISIT THE ANIMAL BARNS
- Fair Mascot Butters D. Cow
- Conduct Science Experiments
- Other Educational Activities
- And More family-friendly activities…
FREE LIMITED-TIME ATTRACTIONS:
As shown above, there are so many daily free attractions, but there are also limited time attractions.
Thursday, July 27 – WOSU Kids Day – Meet some of your favorite PBS Kids characters
Sunday, July 30 – Veterans & Military Day: Veterans and active military are free today and every day with proper id.
Tuesday, August 1 – Senior Day: Age 60 and up get in free today.
Wednesday, August 2 – Sensory Friendly Morning 10 am-1 pm: Rides will have the music turned down and the lights turned off for a sensory friendly experience. There is a QR code for accessing more information on your mobile devices.
August 6 – Sale of Champions: The grand champion animals will sell at 2 pm.
For the complete list of Limited-Time Attractions, visit The Ohio State Fair Website.
Reviewing movies for parents from a Christian perspective since 2005. Know Before You Go!
Christian Homeschooling mom – 30 years and counting
Autism Mom & Disney enthusiast