Ohio State Fair summary.

The fair's mascot, Cowman, posed for me after the band played during the opening of the fair.

Ohio State Fair 2012

First off, be sure to take your smart phone as there are QR codes all over the park with information on exhibits.

Also, be sure to put on some sunscreen and take some cash to buy food and drinks. The fair is pretty much cash only throughout, from the parking to the vendors.

There are a number of free giveaways. I like to sign up for these, but if you don't want any extra e-mail, you might want to forgo signing up for anything. Bob Evans had a spin to win wheel and CD101/102.5 was going to be starting prize giveaways at noon.

I tried to visit some different areas this year and I started off in the Department of Natural Resources. I spotted Gov. Kasich, his wife and daughter at the Bedrock Geological Map in the beginning area. I also stopped by the camper area to see the yurt and "Solar Sun Oven" which uses the suns rays to cook food. According to the guy at the exhibit they were going to be making s'mores later on with it. I tried my hand at kayaking, as I'd seen others in the past and hadn't done it for more than a decade. It was harder than I remember, but fun. Afterwards, more exhibitors had shown up and included animal pelts, snakeskins and a dog from a Powell shelter group. Also located in the area are exhibits about fish, rivers, butterflies, boating, birds and native trees/wood. It's definitely one of my favorite areas of the fair and I really like the focus on recycling. The benches and a train in the area are made from recycled plastic.

Next, I stopped by the Ag & Hort building. Exhibits on bees, soy, corn, rain barrels and plants can be found here along with other agricultural and horticultural information. The corn wall is located here, but wasn't open for climbing when I visited. Children can plant a seed in the trailer outside the building, pot a plant and ride a mini tractor.

I made a quick walk through the midway to survey the food and there is no shortage of food vendors at the fair. They're all over and include everything from desserts to turkey legs to iced tea. Schmidt's has it's own tent out near the entrance. Don't forget to download coupons for the vendors-both food and in the showplace pavilion at http://www.ohiostatefair.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=279&Itemid=213. Also, I recommend you buy a souvenir or refill cup to save some money on drinks if you'll be at the fair very long. The only things I saw that stood out to me as being new (or new to me) were the pineapple lemonade and bacon cinammon rolls. Pretty much all of the other fair food from fried buckeyes to bananas on a stick I'd seen before. If you want to try the donut burger I had last year, be sure to take your coupon for a small drink when you buy it. A couple of good deals for hearty eaters is the Smorgasbord Meal in the Ag & Hort building which runs $9.95 for adults and $6.25 for ages 8 and younger or the Thanksgiving Dinner in the Taste of Ohio building at the chicken/turkey stand for $9.25. Food in the Taste of Ohio building includes pig wings for $6.50, corn dogs for $3, chicken Italian sausage for $4.75 and a ribeye steak sandwich for $7. Most sandwiches/entrees are in the $6-7 range, drinks $4-5 (I did spot a smaller lemon shake up for $2 on the western side of the main walkway near the livestock buildings) and desserts such as funnel cakes and elephant ears for $5-6.

This year, I visited the Horse Show and Dairy buildings. I really hand it to these competitors for their dedication and for sticking it out in the heat. Stop by and see the horses and outfitted riders or get a look at the variety of cows being shown. I stopped by a building with dairy cows and a sign to "try milking a cow," but they weren't milking at the time for me to try it. I've never done this and wanted to try it out and I recommend you do if you want to. It's an open-air building near the horse and cow buildings on the western side of the main walkway.

The Showpace Pavilion has its usual vendors with cooking sets, shoe cleaner, jewelry cleaner, dip mixes and books for sale. I also spotted an area where you can check for "unclaimed funds," get information on visiting/touring Ohio locales, jobs and family services and free diabetes screenings.

Near the entrance is an area with Australian animals such as wallabees and kangaroos and the animal petting zoo is also close by. Be sure to take some money for entrance and feeding the animals at the petting zoo.

Midway attractions include the large ferris wheel, giant slide and carousel, among others. If you're too tired to walk back to the front gate, the skyride returned and you can get a birds-eye view on your way back. The feet massager machines are also back and still cost $.25 per time.

I didn't have time to visit all of the craft and art buildings this year, but check them out to see some great works by Ohioans. I really enjoyed seeing the quilts, baked goods and scout projects last year.

Other ways to save: Many days have special sponsors and you can get discounted admission with your AAA card, an Ohio Lottery ticket, Kroger card or Pepsi can. Check the fair schedule for special discount days. Visitors can also save on gate admission prices with $6 tickets available through Aug. 5 at Kroger, participating AAA locations with AAA membership and Ticketmaster outlets.

Information about the fair can be found online at http://www.ohiostatefair.com/

Enjoy your visit!