July 2009 Issue
Meet Me at the Fair
The annual celebration of all things Ohio will keep you coming back for more.
With Kelly Clarkson, Midway rides and numerous other attractions beckoning, it wouldn’t be fair to spend just one day at the 2009 Ohio State Fair. This year’s festival runs
July 29–Aug. 9, so there are plenty of chances — and just as many reasons — to keep coming back for more.
Clarkson, who’s set to rock the Celeste Center on the fair’s opening night, leads an impressive — and diverse — lineup of musical acts this year. The parade of headliners includes rockers Alice Cooper and Blue Oyster Cult, who hit the stage
Aug. 1, and country legends Glen Campbell and Kenny Rogers, who perform on Aug. 4. Rascal Flatts, a superstar country crossover group that got its start in
Columbus, closes the fair with a huge show at Crew Stadium Aug. 9.
While music is always a big draw at the state fair, there’s no shortage of other entertainment options, family fun and great food. Fair spokesperson Christina Leeds describes it as the “premier showcase of Ohio” with something for everyone to enjoy.
For some,” Leeds says, “[the highlight] is viewing the fair from above on the SkyGlider, enjoying an ice cream cone while viewing the butter cow or catching a fish in the Natural Resources Park.”
At a half-mile in length, the SkyGlider is billed as one of the world’s longest portable sky rides. And, each year, about a half million people make a beeline to the Dairy Products Building to see the butter cow, a life-sized sculpture that’s been a fair tradition since the early 1900s.
A favorite for kids — and kids at heart — is the Midway, where more than 60 rides are ready to spin you ’round and ’round and turn you upside down. There’s also the Giant Slide, which was introduced in 1969. Sure, you have to hike up 105 steps, but the trip down the 144-foot slide will make you want to do it again before you even reach the bottom. One piece of advice: Get all your slides and spins in before you drop by the Taste of Ohio Café, where they serve up homegrown treats like pork loin sandwiches, roasted corn and creamy milkshakes. The café also hosts cooking demonstrations by Ohio chefs and celebrities.
New to the fair this year is “Wild About Monkeys,” an entertaining animal act starring trained baboons, a baby capuchin monkey, a parrot and a leopard dog. Also making its inaugural appearance is mutton bustin’, where riders 6 and older are challenged to spend at least six seconds riding a sheep. And, the BMX Pros Bike & Board Trick Team makes its fair debut with some aerial bicycle and skateboard tricks.
When you visit the Ohio State Fair, expect to see or do something you’ve never seen or done before. For starters, have you ever watched a knitting contest? On Aug. 1, you can catch Ohio’s fastest needles battling for sewing supremacy in the DiSalle Center. If that’s not your thing, sign up for the watermelon-seed-spitting competition. Enter the Aug. 6 contest and you just might beat the world record of nearly 69 feet. Or, just sit back and watch the experts have at it.
Some folks think you can build anything with a roll of duct tape and an active imagination. Well, this year, the Ohio State Fair is providing them an outlet. The fair’s first-ever duct-tape-wagon float competition will determine who can transform 10 rolls of tape into the finest float around.
This year’s fair is providing an opportunity for backyard athletes all across the Buckeye state to capture a little glory. If you’re up for it, grab a friend and enter the corn hole tournament Aug. 2 at the Buckeye Sports Center. For the uninitiated, corn hole has players toss beanbags into or near a small hole cut into a propped-up wooden box about 30 feet away. The team with the best accuracy wins.
While you’re walking the fairgrounds, don’t be surprised if you see a famous face in the crowd. This year, President Abraham Lincoln (OK, a reasonable facsimile thereof) will be addressing visitors in his signature stovepipe hat. Other roving entertainers include a giant box turtle that carries a puppet-show wagon on its back, an origami artist, magicians, a juggler, a balloon artist and more.
Of course, the fair remains true to its agricultural heritage with the traditional livestock displays — horses, cattle, goats and llamas, to name a few. As usual, the fair will end with the Sale of Champions, where young farmers fetch big bids for their prize-winning animals. And, if you want to learn about agriculture’s impact on your daily life, head to the Ohio Farm Bureau’s interactive “Land and Living” exhibit to see, feel and hear all the answers.