COLUMBUS -- Unusual food flavors, live music, and even a hypnotist will be part of the Ohio State Fair this year.
The entertainment began its 12-day run at the Ohio Expo Center on Wednesday. Events will include live performances, arts and crafts, and new takes on old food staples, including funnel cakes that taste like pumpkin spice, chocolate brownies, and pineapple-upside-down cake.
Gov. John Kasich and family helped launch the 2012 Ohio State Fair with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Wednesday morning.
Other events scheduled will include a stuntman trying to jam people into a 6-foot latex balloon for a world record and a singing competition modeled after American Idol.
Although most people probably think of the fair as a place to play, the Ohio branch of the AARP thought fair-goers might be willing to think about a serious topic as well. So the group took its national "You've Earned a Say" project to the fair for a five-day run at a booth north of 17th Avenue.
A steady stream of fair visitors took a break Wednesday from downing lemon shake-ups and checking out the butter cow to fill out a survey on serious national issues -- the future of Social Security and Medicare -- in the shadow of the Sky Glider.
"I don't pay into Social Security because I work for the state, but my mom and other family members have," said Jim Puthoff, 43, of Grove City after he filled out the five-question survey. "They're asking my opinion. I'll give it to them."
More than 830,000 people visited the fair last year at the Ohio Expo Center. It runs through Aug. 5.