Ohio State Fair begins

Kasich toured the fairgrounds with the general manager and fair commission members, stopping to greet fairgoers — most of which were under 5 feet tall. Kasich emceed an award ceremony for the Agriculture is Cool campaign’s poster contest, talked about showing goats with a young man and chatted up youngsters in the natural resources park after trying his hand at the archery booth.

“This is really a time for families to come together to enjoy themselves, to just realize how special we are to live in the ol’ Buckeye State,” Kasich said at the fair’s opening ceremony.

The fair runs 9 a.m. through 10 p.m. today through Aug.3 and until 8 p.m. Aug. 4. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for children and seniors and free for children under five. Reduced price tickets can be purchased at Kroger stores, AAA locations and Ticketmaster outlets.

Beyond agriculture and animals, the fair features Ohio art, history and science exhibitions. Headlining music acts include Eric Benet, Carly Rae Jepsen, Martina McBride and the Oak Ridge Boys, making their record-setting 16th appearance at the fair. A full list of events can be found on the fair website, www.ohiostatefair.com

During the nearly two-hour tour, Kasich stopped to inspect nine trees planted as part of “operation shade.” He also stopped by his own tree planted in governors’ grove, home to one tree for each governor since Jim Rhodes.

And no visit to the fair would be complete without a few moments standing in awe before the butter cow sculpture.

One fair tradition Kasich will miss: Spending a night at the fair. The first lady and their twin daughters plan to sleep over instead.

Gov. Rhodes used to sleep in the barns with 4-H kids and Gov. Ted Strickland slept in the camping exhibit in the natural resources park, using the opportunity to meet with Ohioans and toast a few marshmallows.

Kasich’s visit seemed mostly free from politics, save for an Ohio Democratic Party spokesman’s comment that Kasich’s $9 fair snack — sausage with kraut and bottled water — is equivalent to the estimated net tax break among middle class Ohioans in recent tax policy changes endorsed by Kasich.

And Kasich made a few digs at state lawmakers, who whittled down the governor’s proposed budget reforms and eliminated his proposal to expand Medicaid for 275,000 poor Ohioans.

A naturalist urged Kasich to ask the small falcon resting on her hand to spread its wings. Kasich said please and the bird flapped its wings.

“I wish the legislature responded like that,” Kasich said.

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