The Ohio State Fair starts Wednesday, July 24, and one of the best parts of the fair is the ODNR Natural Resources Park, located in the southeastern corner of the fairgrounds. The park is a perfect place for families with children to fish, kayak, visit Smokey Bear, see Ohio’s native animals up close or get out of heat and relax under the numerous shade trees. Entry to the park is free with state fair admission.
A highlight of the park for most children is meeting the 15-foot-tall Smokey Bear, which greets children by name and reminds all visitors that only they can prevent forest fires.
The ODNR amphitheater provides an opportunity to experience live outdoor entertainment with seating available for 500 people. Amphitheater entertainment includes music, lumberjacks, retriever dogs, birds of prey and animals from the Columbus Zoo. Shows are offered from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily during the fair.
The new Camping 101 program, scheduled daily at 11 a.m. at the Camper Village, will give visitors an opportunity to show their camping skills and win prizes, as well as learn more about safety while camping. This audience-participation program is fun for all ages.
The pioneer cabin at the ODNR Natural Resources Park has been transformed into an Ohio Public House, circa 1800. Volunteers will be in period costumes and a variety of hands-on activities, games and music will be offered inside and outside of the cabin area.
The park offers several fun activities in the ODNR Division of Wildlife section, such as the Youth Fishing Pond, which is a popular place for children 14 and under to catch fish. Youth who catch a fish may return it to the pond or take it home to eat.
Visitors can view Ohio native wildlife up close and personal, such as the red fox, Southern flying squirrel, beaver, great horned owl and bald eagle along the wildlife boardwalk. Each park visitor is invited to tour the Butterfly House to watch butterflies emerge from their chrysalises and then have the opportunity to take photographs of the various beautiful butterflies. Ruthven’s Aviary allows fairgoers to familiarize themselves with birds, including the great blue heron and several species of waterfowl.
Trained instructors teach kids the essentials of firearms safety with pellet guns at the Annie Oakley Shooting Range, and then kids test their shooting skills at the laser simulator. Visitors can also learn archery at the adjacent range.
Visitors 18 and under who enjoy the water should visit the kayak pond, where they can learn how to paddle around the 7,000-square-foot pond, which is supervised by ODNR Division of Watercraft personnel.
For any questions or information, visit the ODNR information booth and gift shop for natural resources literature, posters, souvenirs, clothing and toys.
The ODNR Natural Resources Park is open daily during the run of the fair from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m., and entry is free with state fair admission. Visit ohiodnr.gov to access more detailed information about the ODNR Natural Resources Park or check out the daily amphitheater schedule.
The Ohio State Fair runs from Wednesday, July 24, through Sunday, Aug. 4. For more information about the Ohio State Fair, go to ohiostatefair.com.
Logo courtesy Ohio Department Natural Resources