History & Tourism

Summer Road Trips: The Ohio State Fair, Past And Present

23 Jul , 2017  

This week brings the granddaddy of all Ohio fairs and festivals – the Ohio State Fair.

First held in 1850 during three days in Cincinnati, the current edition welcomes almost a million visitors to the Fairgrounds in Columbus, its home since 1886.

Past — Mansfield was once a host city. Speaking of 19th century Ohio State Fairs, did you know that the 1872 and 1873 fairs were held in Mansfield? Our city is one of only 10 statewide to hold that honor. It was held at the “grounds of the Richland County Agricultural Society,” which were located on Springmill Street just north from Harker Street.

The Mansfield experience for the Ohio State Fair was a bittersweet one. On one hand, receipts were up, as shared in the 1873 and 1874 Reports of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture:

“The State Fair at Mansfield, September, 1873, was in all respects a satisfactory one. The arrangements were as good as could be made, except for a permanent location. Manificent shade trees, covering some twenty acres; water was supplied on all parts of the grounds by Holly water-works; a well-graded half mile track, with commodious stands for seating spectators; good, weather-proof halls, and suitable buildings for live-stock, made the grounds comfortable and attractive.” “The fairs of 1872 and 1873 were, financially, a greater success than any former fairs held in the State.”

The Mansfield Herald of September 4, 1873 noted that the third day of the Fair had good attendance, estimated at 20,000. The article also shared the hope that the evening rain that day would be the last of the five day event, and also remarked on one of the more active scenes of the Fair, “On the liveliest parts of the ground was in the vicinity of the washing machines, where it seemd that all the orators of the country had joined in the recommendation of washing machines.”

On the other hand, however, Fair proceeds were deposited at the First National Bank of Mansfield, which almost immediately suffered a partial financial collapse. A recovery of most of the $14,000 on deposit was anticipated, however.

Present — Ways to enjoy the 2017 Fair at a reduced cost. This year’s event is being held from July 26 through August 6. The Fair has shared some ideas on how your family can save money on a day’s entertainment.

“A day of family fun doesn’t have to break the bank. The Ohio State Fair provides endless entertainment at a bargain price. Bring your family of five and spend no more than $100! Here are some quick tips and tricks to a successful budgeted day of Fair fun:

  • Get your $6 advance tickets and $20 ride-all-day wristbands at Kroger today
  • Check out discounted days to see when you can catch a deal
  • Kids under five get in free every day
  • Download printer-friendly coupons
  • Take advantage of free entertainment
  • Have fun!

Families can enjoy free entertainment at a number of different locations around the Fair. Stop by the Main Street or the Frontier Airlines Gazebo stage to catch musicians, comedians, magicians and more. Stroll through the Natural Resources Park or head over to Meijer Kiddieland to visit the petting zoo and other attractions. The Fair also has numerous exhibits to explore offering fun for all ages.

The Ohio State Fair has several discount days to take advantage of. On Thursday, July 27, bring in two canned goods for $3 admission. If you spend $100 at Meijer between July 14 and 28, you can show your receipt on Friday, July 28 for two free admission tickets. Sunday, Aug. 6 is Pepsi Day – bring in an empty Pepsi product and enjoy $3 admission before 3 pm.

Not attending the Fair on discount days? Don’t worry! We’ve planned a trip to the Fair for a family of five for just $100 for any day of the week!

  • Parking – $5
  • Four advance gate admission tickets – $24
  • One child under five – Free
  • Two advance ride-all-day wristbands – $40
  • Three Dippin’ Dots for kids with $1 off coupon – $8
  • One pizza from Whole World / Dar-Lo Pizza to share with coupon for four free drinks – $20
  • Strolling and musical entertainment – Free
  • Petting Zoo – Free
  • Family day of fun – PRICELESS

TOTAL = $97

Want more savings? We’ve budgeted a day at the Fair for just $50. Let the savings begin on NBC4 Family Value Day, Monday, July 31. On this day, kids 12 and under enjoy free admission to the Fair and ride-all-day wristbands have a buy-one-get-one deal until 6 pm.

To make the deals even better, parents can plan ahead and buy two advance gate admission tickets for $6 and one advance ride-all-day wristband voucher for $20. Once at the Fair, the wristband voucher can be redeemed and a second rider can ride free with a hand stamp until 6 pm.

Enjoy the classics, but don’t break the bank. Parents can save on food and beverages by bringing their own cooler filled with beverages and snacks. Of course, everyone will still want to indulge in their Fair favorites. Corndogs can be found for just $2 and the whole family can share a $5 funnel cake.

The Ohio State Fair provides endless opportunities for family fun. We’ve calculated the perfect day for a family of four for just $50:

  • Two Advance Gate Admission Tickets – $12
  • Two children under 12 – Free
  • Parking – $5
  • One ride-all-day wristband with one free rider – $20
  • Four corn dogs – $8
  • One funnel cake to share – $5
  • Strolling and musical entertainment – Free
  • Petting Zoo – Free
  • Family day of fun – PRICELESS

TOTAL = $50

Save on gate admission prices with $6 tickets by picking up your tickets at one of our retail outlets, including Kroger, participating O’Reilly Auto Parts stores, participating AAA locations with AAA membership or get tickets online at Ticketmaster.com/ohiostatefair with no order processing fees.

To purchase advance ride-all-day wristbands, purchase a voucher to be redeemed at the Fair at Kroger stores, or get your wristband vouchers online at Ticketmaster.com/ohiostatefair with no order processing fees.

Photo: Creative Commons License

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