Posted in Annual event, Past events

ODNR’s Natural Resources Park at the Ohio State Fair

This is describing a fair visit from 2014. The upcoming fair is being held July 26 – August 6, 2017.

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

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 (Lobelia cardinalis)
Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) — It 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

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
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.
uccess! 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

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 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 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.

Additional information
  • Address: 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43211
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.0031248,-82.9939213
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions

More on Central Ohio

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

5 thoughts on “ODNR’s Natural Resources Park at the Ohio State Fair

  1. 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.

    1. 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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