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State fair starts this week

Attractions range from sea lion act to Martina McBride to 18 foods on a stick to butter sculptures.

Starting on Wednesday, The Ohio Expo Center in Columbus will be buzzing with guests from all over Ohio as the 2013 Ohio State Fair kicks off its 12-day celebration.

Entering its 163rd year, visitors to this annual event can expect favorite attractions from years past as well as some new additions that add to the fair fun.

“One of the new attractions we have this year is the sea lion splash,” spokesperson Alicia Shoults said. “It’s the only traveling sea lion act in the country and we’re really excited to have it.”

Part of the fun for Ohio city-dwellers at the fair is getting exposed to many different animals that they otherwise might not have a chance to see, Shoults said.

In addition to the many animals, the fair will feature performances by Martina McBride, Styx, REO Speedwagon and the Steve Miller band to name a few.

Daytime entertainment will include musicians, comedians and magicians as well as strolling entertainers walking around the grounds. James Johnson, one of the strolling entertainers, specializes in balloon shows and can fit groups of people inside a latex balloon, Shoults said.

Other attractions will include a replica civil war encampment, an “Ohio Idol” vocal competition, and a kiddie tractor pull.

Of course, no fair is complete without food. This year’s fair will offer visitors over 200 different food vendors with everything from french fries to 18 different foods served on a stick, Shoults said.

For those looking for a more variety, the new “taste of the fair” program is the best option. “Now vendors will offer smaller portion items for a lower price so that people can try more things,” Shoults said.

Food at the Ohio State fair is not simply for eating, but it can be used for artistic purposes as well.

A staple of the fair is the traditional butter sculptures that include a butter cow sculpture, a butter calf sculpture, and a mystery butter sculpture that will be revealed the day before the fair opens.

“The mystery sculpture is like an Ohio Mount Rushmore,” Shoults said, usually featuring a famous Ohioan like John Glenn or William Howard Taft.

As each year passes and the fair continues to grow, organizers are keen on providing visitors with a variety of entertainment options that appeal to all ages.

“The fair is huge and there’s so much to see and do,” Shoults said. “I recommend that you grab a map when you get here and make your mark on the fair.”

How To Go:

Dates: July 24-Aug. 4

Hours: Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. Gates close at 9 p.m. Aug. 4

General Admission: $10 for adults. $8 for seniors 60 and up and children ages 5-12. Children under 5 are free. $6 advance ticket sales.

Food: Over 200 vendors with every kind of food. Prices range from a $1 to $10.

Rides: $23 ride all day wristband voucher. $20 advance ride all day wristband voucher.

Directions: Take I-70 East to I-71 North. Take I-71 North to 17th Avenue/Exit 111. Signs and parking attendants will direct guests to the proper parking areas. Address for event location: Ohio Expo Center 717 E. 17th Ave. Columbus, OH 43211.

Parking/Camping: $5 general parking. Long-term camping is for those staying the entire length of the fair. $350 for long-term camping. Reservations must be accepted and paid in advance upon completion of the R.V. camping permit application. Lots are full hook-up. For reservations, call (614) 644-4191. Short-term camping for fairgoers not staying for the entire fair is available on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations accepted. Water and electric provided, some lots full hook-up provided. The charge is $35 per night.



Jeff Dunham: July 24 at 7 p.m.

Ladies’ Night Out featuring Eric Benet, K’Jon and Noel Gourdin: July 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Martina McBride with Angie Johnson: July 26 at 7 p.m.

Will Downing/Lalah Hathaway: July 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Styx/REO Speedwagon: July 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Justin Moore with The Farm: July 29 at 7 p.m.

Austin Mahone with Jake Miller: July 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Carly Rae Jepsen with New Hollow: July 31 at 7 p.m.

Steve Miller Band: Aug. 1 at 7 p.m.

The Oak Ridge Boys/Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers/Crystal Gayle: Aug. 2 at 7 p.m.

Other Attractions:

Fireworks: Scheduled at the end of each night around 9:45 p.m.

Petting Zoo: Free petting zoo will feature more than 50 animals.

Pony Rides: $3 a ride

Camel Rides: $5 per child, $7 per adult.

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