Land & Living building at the Ohio State Fair (photo by Jim Vickers)
Travel

Ohio State Fair: Where to Cool Off

When the midday sun starts to blaze, it’s time to look for a little shade. Here are spots to chill out and discover some really cool things. 

The Midway rides are fun and Kiddieland delights the little ones, but there comes a time in every fair-goer’s visit when you just want to grab some shade. The good news is a variety of buildings across the fairgrounds offer a wealth of diversions, whether you want to browse the works of some blue-ribbon-winning artists or watch model trains, learn about Ohio fish and aquatic creatures or check out the Butter Cow sculpture. Then there are the exhibitors selling everything from sugar gliders (Google that one) to home decor to novelty gifts. Here’s our rundown on five spots where you can beat the heat and make some cool discoveries along the way. 

Check the Ohio State Fair map to locate the buildings listed below or pick one up at the information center just inside the main gates.

Natural Resources Park
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Exhibits | Natural Resource Park 
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ 8-acre Natural Resource Park at the southern end of the fairgrounds offers a wooded summer respite for fair-goers, but it’s also a place to learn about our state’s natural features and the living things that call them home. Nature lovers will be delighted by the hands-on exhibits, including ones that allow visitors to pick up crawfish and take a closer look at hard-to-spot creatures like dragonfly nymphs (with the help of Ohio Department of Natural Resources staffers). You can also step inside a yurt and cabin like those available at some of our state parks, and the little ones can try their hand at paddling a kayak in a small on-site pond. Also, don’t miss grabbing a photo with the 14-foot animatronic Smokey Bear. 

Bricker Marketplace Building
Exhibitors & International Food Court | Bricker Marketplace Building
From novelty toys to beautiful blown-glass creations to displays from the state agency in charge of tourism, a visit to the Bricker Marketplace Building promises plenty of fun diversions. There’s also an international food court on-site offering tastes of Italy, Mexico, Greece and more.

Agricultural Displays | Land & Living Building 
Farming is essential to Ohio’s economy and the Land & Living Building brings Ohioans up close to what working the earth really means. In addition to displays of machinery ranging from agricultural drones to enormous tractors, the exhibits here also include eggs that are in the process of hatching (you can take a peep at the newborn chicks on the opposite side of the display) and interactive games that explain concepts like farm commodities. If you’ve ever been curious about the realities of being a farmer, you can get a flavor for it here. 

Quilts in Kasich Hall
Creative Arts & Competition | Kasich Hall 
Visit this building to check out prize-winning fair submissions ranging from brilliantly patterned quilts to incredibly elaborate cakes. Take a stroll around the hall to admire unique pieces competing in unconventional categories like origami and tablescape. This year's "Space Galaxy Adventure" themed entry category also gives you the chance to enjoy some out-of-this-world artwork.

Exhibitors | Shoppes at North Commercial
You never know what you’ll find at the Ohio State Fair’s Shoppes at North Commercial pavilion as the offerings here run the gamut. In previous years, fair attendees have had the chance to talk with Ohio State University football superfan Buck I Guy, find a laser-cut wooden case for their mobile phone or rediscover a vintage toy from their youth. With vendors selling everything from kitchen wares to jewelry to collectibles, there's sure to be plenty of new things to discover.

Explore the Ohio State Fair: Iconic Spots | Food Guide | Animal Attractions | Where to Cool Off | Concerts and Shows

For more information about the Ohio State Fair, which runs July 26 through Aug. 6, visit ohiostatefair.com.