The Ohio State Fair opens Wednesday, July 23, at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) provides visitors the opportunity to experience the great outdoors only steps from the busy midway at the ODNR Natural Resources Park. The park, located in the southeast corner of the fairgrounds, is free to anyone attending the fair.
“The Ohio State Fair is one of my favorite events of the year because it provides a snapshot of what Ohio has to offer,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “Our Natural Resources Park has something for everyone, and we encourage guests to come experience the variety of outdoor activities for themselves.”
Visitors are welcomed into the park by a 15-foot-tall Smokey Bear who greets each child by name. In celebration of Smokey’s 70th birthday, the All Ohio State Fair Youth Choir will be singing “Happy Birthday.” Additionally, a Smokey Bear hot air balloon will float high above the fairgrounds on the mornings of July 23-24, weather permitting.
New this year, guests will have an opportunity to try their hand at disc golf in our Ohio State Parks camping village. Professionals from various disc golf associations throughout the state will be in the park to educate golfers on skills and equipment.
The 7,000-square-foot kayak pond is open daily to visitors of all ages. Take a float around the pond and learn more about paddling from ODNR Division of Watercraft staff. We will also be demonstrating stand-up paddleboarding, one of the newest and most popular water activities, daily at 3 p.m. in the kayak pond.
The Youth Fishing Pond is open to guests under 14. Kids can go fishing and throw back or keep what they catch. Fish filleting and frying demonstrations will also be featured this year at the Fishing Pond for guests of all ages.
The ODNR Amphitheater provides an opportunity to experience outdoor entertainment with seating available for approximately 500 people. Amphitheater entertainment ranges from music and dancers to lumberjacks and animals from the Columbus Zoo. Shows are offered from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
New this year, the park will host a live performance by the highly acclaimed bluegrass band, The Grascals, on Wednesday, July 30, at 4:20 p.m. The concert will take place in the ODNR Amphitheater and is free for all fairgoers. The Grascals have been previously featured on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” the Grand Ole Opry and performed for two of the nation’s presidents.
Visitors can view Ohio native wildlife, such as snapping turtles, a great horned owl and bald eagles, up close and personal along the wildlife boardwalk. Park visitors are invited to tour the Butterfly House to watch butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. Ruthven’s Aviary allows fairgoers to familiarize themselves with an array of birds, including the great blue heron.
Instructors from the ODNR Division of Wildlife will be in the park daily to assist visitors at the Annie Oakley BB Shooting Range. Visitors can also try their hand at archery.
The pioneer cabin at the ODNR Natural Resources Park has been transformed into an Ohio Public House, circa 1800. Volunteers will be in period costumes, and a variety of hands-on activities, games and music will be offered inside and outside of the cabin area.
For any questions or information, visit the ODNR information booth and gift shop for natural resources literature, posters, souvenirs, clothing and toys.
The ODNR Natural Resources Park is open daily during the run of the fair from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m., and entry is free with state fair admission. Visit ohiodnr.gov/state-fair to access more detailed information about the ODNR Natural Resources Park or check out the daily amphitheater schedule.
The Ohio State Fair runs from Wednesday, July 23, through Sunday, Aug. 3. For more information about the Ohio State Fair, go to ohiostatefair.com.