It is creamy, sweet and crunchy -- and it will be one of the exclusive food draws at the Ohio State Fair.

"Cereal and milk" ice cream is being made exclusively for the fair by Velvet Ice Cream in Utica.

It combines honey-graham cereal, pieces of dried honey and a sweet-cream base for a rich, flavorful treat, said Nathan Arnold, a spokesman for Velvet.

"I love this flavor," he said.

Food -- whether it comes frozen, deep-fried, blended, healthful or on a stick -- is a significant attraction at the state fair, which began July 26 and runs through Aug. 6 at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair, 717 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus.

The 164th annual fair opened July 26 and will run from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily until the final day, when gates close at 7 p.m.

Tickets cost $6 each if purchased via ticketmaster.com. Tickets purchased at the gate cost $10 for adults, $8 for children ages 5 to 17 and adults 60 and older. Children 4 and younger will be admitted free.

For the new ice-cream flavor, Velvet created a Facebook contest seeking suggestions, Arnold said. The winning suggestion from Kari Childs of Delaware was chosen from among 700 submitted. She received free ice cream from Velvet, tickets to the fair and other prizes, he said.

Other vendors are offering a number of new items, including deep-fried tacos and cheese curds, the latter made locally, said Alicia Shoults, a spokeswoman for the fair.

Alternatives to deep-fried, high-calorie fare also will be offered, including turkey dinners, grilled chicken salad and pork tenderloin, Shoults said.

"There's a lot more produce and lean-meat options available at the Taste of Ohio Cafe," she said.

Ohio-made beer and wine also will be available, she said.

Food isn't the only attraction for those attending, Shoults said.

"The fair is all about tradition and it brings everyone in our great state together regardless of your interest," she said.

Among the new exhibitions is the Wild About Monkeys Show, which will feature baboons and capuchins performing tricks while their handlers provide information about the animals, Shoults said.

Performers in the iFlip Aerial Acrobatics Show will get airborne using trampolines and bungee cords, she said.

Several bands will perform in the Celeste Center, including rocker George Thorogood and the Destroyers and southern-rock outfit 38 Special at 7 p.m. Aug. 2, and country act Rascal Flatts at 7 p.m. Aug. 3.

On the safety front, fair officials are reminding patrons to frequently wash their hands and not take food into animal barns because of the possible spread of swine flu, Shoults said. Two hogs tested positive for swine flu July 19 at the Franklin County Fair.

Shoults said all precautions are being taken at the state fair, including placing hand-washing stations throughout the grounds.

"We're confident that we have procedures in place to help prevent the spread of any disease among animals and humans," she said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary