COLUMBUS — The Oak Ridge Boys, camel rides, maple-bacon ice cream, and deep-fried gummy bears await visitors to this year’s Ohio State Fair, which opens Wednesday in Columbus.
The weather appears to be cooperating, with temperatures forecast in the low 80s and only a day or two of rain expected during the 12-day run.
“I’m looking forward to having fun and bringing this thing home,” fair manager Virgil Strickler said of the Ohio Expo Center’s annual piece de resistance.
The gates to the 160th version of the fair are to open at 9 a.m. to the beat of the All-Ohio State Fair band and choir.
Gov. John Kasich is to cut the ribbon at the fairgrounds’ 17th Avenue entrance. Gates will close Aug. 4, after thousands have had their annual fill of tiny doughnuts, sheep-shearing demonstrations, a cow made of butter, fried pickles, mop-sellers, and dart-tossing.
New this year is more shade, just inside the Cardinal Gate on the north end of the fairgrounds. A strip of nine large trees creates a boulevard of sorts, part of an effort for a tree canopy on the grounds.
Also added are more directional signs, new ticket booths, metal detectors, more security cameras, and banana-pudding funnel cakes.
Longtime fair-goers might notice a few missing traditions. The corn climbing wall, a popular attraction in the Agriculture and Horticulture building, is gone, a victim of high-liability costs.
Two car-sales exhibits from last year aren’t returning.
But the backbones of the fair — midway rides, animal competitions, fried food-on-a-stick, roving entertainers, and nighttime concerts — remain.