Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to attend the 12-day run of the Ohio State Fair, which opens Wednesday, July 24, at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds, 717 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus.

Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to attend the 12-day run of the Ohio State Fair, which opens Wednesday, July 24, at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds, 717 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus.

Some, however, will have a little more on their minds than carnival games, rides and fried food.

The fair's annual best-of-show competitions and juried shows include traditional pie-making, home-brewed beer and horsemanship.

Many are in advance of the fair's opening day and results are displayed at various fairground venues, but some competitions occur in front of public spectators during the fair.

A few of this year's central Ohio exhibitors are: Phoebe Snyder, a Hilliard Darby High School graduate who entered five photographs in the fine-arts competition; Jeff Berry, a Hilliard resident whose homemade cream ale won a category-specific gold medal at the Homebrew Competition; and Mallory Baker, a 13-year-old from Upper Arlington who will compete in English and Western horse shows.

Two Johnstown teens who are part of the local 4-H Club also are entering. Madison Schulze, 13, is in her second year of a project called "Family Treasure Hunt," tracing her family's genealogy. Hannah Vicroy, 17, will enter a project called "Make Over My Space," in which she redesigned her bedroom -- paint, bedding, etc.

High hopes for photos

"I'm a visual person who likes to express myself and tell stories through photography, "said Snyder, 18, who will attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Baker submitted nine photographs, five of which were selected for the fine arts show.

One of those is titled, "Americana Manger" and depicts a young couple seated in a 1960s pickup truck and holding an infant swaddled in an American flag. Inside the truck cab is a Coca-Cola and other images of popular American culture.

"I wanted to depict that the American dream is still alive," Snyder said.

Snyder will learn July 23, the day before the fair opens, whether any of her five photographs are recognized, but all five and others will be on display from July 24 to Aug. 4.

Homebrewing champ

Judging for homebrewed beers already is complete and Berry won a gold medal for his cream ale in the light-hybrid category.

It was Berry's first gold medal at the Ohio State Fair, following the silver and bronze medals he earned last year and a bronze medal two years ago.

Berry has won at other competitions throughout Ohio, as well as contests in Michigan and Iowa.

"It's a hobby (and) has helped me make a lot of new friends," Berry said. "I enjoy sharing it with other people."

Winners' names are listed, and if the brewer chooses, a labeled bottle is put on display, but, Berry said, he did not label or bottle his cream ale for display at the fair.

Taking the reins

Showing animals is a tradition at most fairs, and Baker will compete July 30 in the English and Western classes of horse showmanship, horsemanship and equitation.

In horse showmanship, Baker is required to follow a set of patterns, on foot beside the horse, using reins to control it.

In horsemanship, Baker will be required to do the same while mounted.

Equitation uses similar patterns while saddled, but in the English classes as opposed to the Western class.

"My mother showed horses when she was a girl and she has a friend who has horses," Baker said. "I saw them when I was about 5 years old, and have been riding horses since then."

Baker will compete in 4-H shows at the Franklin County Fair July 13-20 in advance of the competition at the state fair.

Last year, she placed fifth in horsemanship and equitation.

If you go

The state fair runs from July 24 to Aug. 4.

Concerts will include Martina McBride on July 26; a twin bill featuring REO Speedwagon and Styx on July 28; Carly Rae Jepsen with special guest New Hollow, a rock band from New Albany, on July 31; and the Steve Miller Band on Aug. 1.

Comedian ventriloquist Jeff Dunham also will perform July 24.

Daily entertainment includes a Civil War encampment, petting zoo, carnival rides and fireworks each evening.

Gates will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, except Aug. 4, when gates close at 8 p.m.

Rides will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

Admission will be $10 for adults and children 13 and over.

Senior citizens (60 and over) and children ages 5 to 12 will be admitted for $8. Children under 4 will be admitted free.

Advance tickets may be purchased for $6. All-day wristbands for unlimited rides are $23 ($20 in advance) and parking on fairgrounds property is $5.

For a detailed schedule of daily events and other information, visit ohiostatefair.com.