Westerville's Concord Counseling Services is among the recipients of about 15,000 free admission tickets to take in the midway, buttered cow and other offerings at the 2018 Ohio State Fair.

The 165th Ohio State Fair began July 25 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 5, at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds, 717 E. 17th Ave.

Alicia Shoults, fair marketing and public relations director, said about 5,000 tickets are donated to nonprofit community organizations each year, as well as 10,000 to individuals served by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

"The purpose is to assist so that the individuals the organization serves can attend the fair free of charge," Shoults said.

"This year, one of the organizations we have donated to is in Westerville."

Concord Counseling, a nonprofit mental health agency that serves people 3 years and older, was given 50 tickets to the fair.

Brendan Phillips, clinical service coordinator, said Concord works with individuals experiencing disability and financial instability.

"We provide the best behavioral health services by instilling hope, improving lives and serving with heart," he said. "It is our Permanent Supportive Housing program that will primarily be using the Ohio State Fair tickets."

In the Supportive Housing program, Phillips said, independence and personal advocacy are promoted for individuals rebuilding their lives.

"These residents are primarily recovering from the afflictions of homelessness, disability, or long-term hospitalization," he said. "To be able to visit and enjoy the Ohio State Fair is a great gift to our residents that Concord Counseling Services is thrilled to provide."

Phillips said the tickets would allow Concord clients to enjoy an experience that many might take for granted.

"This Ohio State Fair trip will be a chance to build community between our residents," he said. "Concord Counseling Services works with several residential buildings and we will use the Ohio State Fair trip to build connections between the buildings through group meet-ups and shared meals."

Phillips said the hope is to create relationships and bonds to expand the horizons, opportunities and friendships of Concord residents.

"We never know what will come out of these events; we can only plant the seeds of opportunity," he said. "We thank the Ohio State Fair for giving our residents that opportunity."

General fair admission to the Ohio State Fair costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 60 and older and $8 for children ages 5 to 12.

Children 4 and younger are 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.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla