ODNR’s Natural Resources Park at the Ohio State Fair

Yesterday we went to the Ohio State Fair. The state fair is one of the largest in country and is held every year toward the end of July and the beginning of August at the 360 acre Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio. The original Ohio State Fair started in 1850 and today’s fair retains much of the early fairs agricultural roots.

The sky ride.

The sky ride shortly after the fair opened.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has an 18 acre exhibition at the fair. The exhibition includes displays and information about the geology of Ohio, natural resource usage, camping, park facilities, and many other topics.

Entrance to the ODNR site within the fairgrounds

Entrance to the ODNR site within the fairgrounds

Signpost pointing out attractions within the ODNR site.

Signpost pointing out attractions within the ODNR site.

Deb got to try her hand at kayaking. After a little instruction, she paddled around a shallow, man-made pond with the rest of her group for 15 minutes. The instructor said the key to paddling a kayak was to turn your torso at each stroke so your abdominal muscles contributed to the stroke.

Deb trying out kayaking

Deb trying out kayaking. She recommends wearing quick-drying nylon or polyester shorts if you decide to give this a try.

The group trying out kayaking.

The group trying out kayaking. If you look at the assistants who were standing in the water, you can see how shallow the water was.

People lining up for the dock at the end of the kayak training session.

People lining up for the dock at the end of the kayak training session.

One of the ODNR exhibitions was demonstration garden that promoted the use of Ohio’s native wildflowers as landscaping flowers. In addition to using less water, many of these flowers also help sustain the local butterfly populations.

Cardinal flower

Cardinal flower

This wildflower grows in dry soil over limestone bedrock, mostly in Adams County. It is known as "Rattlesnake Master".

This wildflower grows in dry soil over limestone bedrock, mostly in Adams County. It is known as “Rattlesnake Master”.

Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea)  on Purple coneflower

Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea) on Purple coneflower

In addition to the native, wildflower garden, there was also a butterfly house that featured Monarch butterflies and an aviary with native Ohio birds.

Monarch butterfly on purple coneflower

Monarch butterfly on purple coneflower

Egret, one of the species in the ODNR aviary

Egret, one of the species in the ODNR aviary

An outdoor amphitheater featured a variety of events. Prior to the demonstration of dogs retrieving decoy ducks from the water, the ODNR staff had to clear out some real ducks from the demonstration area.

The ODNR staff trying to round up the living ducks before dogs are released to retrieve duck decoys.

The ODNR staff trying to round up the living ducks before dogs are released to retrieve duck decoys.

Success! An ODNR staff person has nabbed a duck with her net.

Success! An ODNR staff person has nabbed a duck with her net.

We stopped for lunch at a tent run by a local Columbus restaurant – Schmidt’s for their bratwurst and potato salad. We then visited sites featuring civil war re-enactors, textile crafts, Ohio dairy products, and fine arts.

Quilts on display.

Quilts on display.

The dairy exhibit featured sculptures made of butter (in a refrigerated enclosure). The displays were sculpted by Bob King, Alex Balz, Paul Brooke, Tammy Buerk, and Erin Swearingen, and the theme was Ohio’s various state symbols. And as always there was a butter cow and butter calf.

Butter sculpture of cow and calf.

Butter sculpture of cow and calf.

Butter sculptures: On the left is our state mammal (the white-tailed deer) and on the right is the proposed state symbol to represent our anthropological heritage. It is a rendering of a prehistoric statue of a Shaman.

Butter sculptures: On the left is our state mammal (the white-tailed deer) and on the right is the proposed state symbol to represent our anthropological heritage. It is a rendering of a prehistoric statue of a Shaman.

Butter sculpture of our state wildflower: the large-flowered trillium

Butter sculpture of our state wildflower: the large-flowered trillium

Butter sculpture of our state fossil, the Isotelus (a large trilobite).

Butter sculpture of our state fossil, the Isotelus (a large trilobite).

The fair runs from July 23 – August 3, 2014. If you go, adult tickets can be purchased for $6 at Krogers, a saving over the normal $10 admission.

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and TrekOhio.com 2014
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5 Responses to ODNR’s Natural Resources Park at the Ohio State Fair

  1. Looks fun! I haven’t been to a state fair in years…

  2. Ahcuah says:

    Just a note that the Adena Pipe officially became the State Artifact last year. See, e.g., Governor Signs Bill Making The Adena Pipe Ohio’s Official State Artifact.

  3. Gary says:

    The ODNR part of the Ohio State Fair is one of the best parts of the Fair. I was just wondering what happens to this great resource during the rest of the year? Is it a park or serve some other use when the Fair is nor open.

    • Deb Platt says:

      I asked ODNR on their Facebook page. Here’s what they had to say:

      After the fair, all of the exhibits are taken down. The area [is] used for some special events, like the Columbus Oktoberfest’s Kinterland, but we do not staff it during any other time of the year.

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