Be sure to take cash for food, parking and drinks if you go to the fair. Buy tickets in advance for entry and rides and shop around for food and drink deals. Also, check to see if there's a special entry admission deal for the day you plan on going to the fair.

Ohio State Fair

As usual, the fair offers discount days sponsored by various groups each day of the fair. It's always a good idead to take advantage of these savings. Yesterday, for the fair's opening, admission was $3 before 3 p.m.

Of course, one of my favorite things at the fair is the food. It's plentiful and it's everywhere! There are locally-produced items for sale in the Ohio Building and dairy products in the adjacent Dairy Building, which also houses the butter sculpture. Be sure to stop in and see it, the sculpture took more than 500 hours to make and features the Ohio State Youth Choir for its 50th anniversary. Of course, many of the food and drinks come with different prices, so be sure to shop around a little to get the best deal. If you're going to be there almost all day, it makes sense to buy a refillable cup or mug for drinks. The best deal for drinks seemed to be the white square tents selling soda and Crystal Light with its $7 USA refillable cup (and it has 4 locations at the fair). If you're a voracious eater, then you might want to opt for the meal deals-I saw a sign for a barbecue chicken dinner for $9.95 or an "Evening Meal" featuring roast beef, mashed potatoes w/gravy, veggies and bread/butter for $7.50 and you could add a dessert for $1.50 more. I also spotted the donut burger vendor (which I tried 3 years ago) near the Marketplace building-burgers are still $8 and you can add sweet potato fries for $3.

I saw lots of vendors selling deep fried this and that. I decided to try a deep-fried Snickers. My thoughts were that it was just too much for me-too much breading and too much melted chocolate and nuts. Other offerings were for deep-fried buckeyes, Twinkies, PB&J, grilled cheese, Milky Way, Nutter Butter cookies, gummy bears, Reese Cups and more. I kind of wished I'd gotten some ice cream or a french waffle. I think the only thing I like deep fried and in corndog-type coating is cheese, the cheapest of which can be found by the 11th Ave. entrance for $3.50. There's also no shortage of concessions selling another of my favorites, lemon shake-ups.

Prices for attractions include a 10-mile helicopter ride for $35, electronic bull riding for $5 and Spider-Man trampolines $5. Amusement park rides are $1 per ticket, with most rides requiring 1-3 tickets. All-day wristbands cost $23. The SkyRide, which offers a birds-eye view and transports you from the north and south sides, is $3 each way.

My favorite attractions are free and can be found in the Agricultural/Livestock area and Natural Resources park. "Ag is Cool" features the chance to milke a cow, see livestock and other events. Fishing, kayaking, a virtual shooting range, archery, prairie area, butterly and bird areas, along with hunting and fishing information can be found in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources area.

If you get tired, take a breather and sit down and enjoy the free entertainment at one of the stages. I took a 5-minute break and it was enjoyable watching the show with Ron Diamond at the Live! Stage. I also spotted an entertaining magician outside of the Ag building and some of "The Giants" pirates walking around.

General admission is $10 for adults (ages 13-59), $8 for seniors 60+ and children ages 5-12. Advance tickets are $6 at Kroger (through Aug. 4), AAA and Ticketmaster. Parking is $5.

To plan your visit, check out

My deep-fried Snickers. It was just so-so, nothing to write home about. The chocolate-dipped cheesecakes on a stick at Jenk's concessions looked pretty good for $5. This is your chance to try some unusual foods and get old favorites. Popular central Ohio restaurants Schmidt's and Der Dutchman both have concession stands at the fair.