Dogs will have more than one day at the 2018 Ohio State Fair, with many of the canines demonstrating their abilities as part of 4-H projects presented July 28 through Aug. 2.
The 165th Ohio State Fair will run July 25 through Aug. 5 at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds, 717 E. 17th Ave. It's touted as having big-name entertainment, hundreds of exhibits and one of the largest junior-fair shows in the nation.
Lucinda Miller, 4-H youth development extension specialist, said 1,455 dog projects have been entered in this year's fair by 449 4-H members across Ohio.
Gahanna's Sarah Coon, president of the Franklin County K-9 Wonder Dogs 4-H Club, will serve as a volunteer during agility competitions and be judged on various canine projects of her own.
The 2018 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate will take her dogs -- Ace, 10; Cleo, 4, and Rudy, 12 -- for projects in Obedience and Rally, You and Your Dog and PetPALS.
"PetPALS is a therapy-animal-type project," Coon said.
Rudy, a golden retriever mix, is a certified Canine Good Citizen through an American Kennel Club program that requires the dog to pass a 10-step test that includes basic good manners.
He has often accompanied Coon on therapy visits to the Wesley Glen Retirement Community in Columbus, the Parsons branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library for an after-school reading program, and Pause of Paws, a program to provide stress relief for the Ohio State University students during exams.
Contributing through the PetPALS therapy-dog program, Coon said, it has meant a lot to see four-legged members of her family have a profound effect on people.
"At Wesley Glen, there are nonverbal people," she said. "I think it brightens people's lives. It's wonderful when a passion of mine does something wonderful in someone's life."
She said she has averaged 40 hours per month getting her dogs ready for the Franklin County Fair and Ohio State Fair.
Miller said youth don't need to qualify at the county level for dog projects or livestock to participate at the state fair, but they needed to enter by June 20.
Coon, 18, has been showing dogs at the state fair for many years.
"What I like about dogs is that you can show the same dog year after year and you can continue to bond throughout the animal's life," she said. "Dog showing is as much about you and your dog -- something to do with your best friend. It's not just about ribbons and medals."
Coon's father, Brian Coon, is one of about 10 co-advisers of the K-9 Wonder Dogs 4-H Club, a group with about 30 members.
"Not every kid has a dog that's easy to train," he said. "It's nice to see a kid and dog overcome training challenges.
"It (4-H) also provides events and competitions for kids who are more pen and pencil," he said.
Brian Coon said the agility contest July 28 is the most audience-friendly event at the Ohio State Fair.
Sarah Coon, who will attend Purdue University this fall to major in anthropology and Spanish, said she incorporated a study on facial recognition with one of her canine projects.
She hopes to do some face encounters with her dogs via phone when she leaves for Purdue.
Miller said there are over 200 projects for youth to exhibit in at the state fair. A link to the family guide with the projects can be found online at https://ohio4h.org/familyguide.
Livestock Project categories 4-H youth can enter include llama/alpaca, swine, beef cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, poultry, dairy cattle and horses, with the latter requiring qualification.
There are 9,529 junior-fair livestock entries on behalf of about 2,900 youth, according to Miller.
There are about 5,400 youth participating in nonlivestock projects categories such as cake decorating, companion animals, creative arts, demonstrations, engineering, family life, health, public speaking, home decorating and design, leadership, natural resources, photography, tractor and woodworking.
Fair admission will cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 60 and older and $8 for children 5 to 12. Children 4 and younger will be admitted for free.
Discount admission tickets can be purchased in advance through Aug. 5 at Kroger, participating Ohio O'Reilly Auto Parts stores and participating AAA locations with AAA membership.