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Kids and their llamas dress up for the annual Llama Costume Contest
Kids and their llamas dress up for the annual Llama Costume Contest Photo: Greg Bartram

Ohio State Fair

From the very first fair of three days in 1850 in Cincinnati to the 17-day exposition today, the Ohio State Fair has celebrated Ohio's products, its people and their accomplishments.

Although at first primarily an agricultural fair, in 1853, entertainment crept into the Fair with the first pony rides for children and monkeys dressed up in hats that danced to minstrel tunes. Today's entertainment appeals to modern tastes, and the Ohio State Fair has hosted stars from Ricky Nelson in 1957 to Johnny Carson in 1968 to New Kids on the Block in 1989 to Willie Nelson in 1998. Vince Gill, Johnny Cash, the Oak Ridge Boys, the Osmonds, Bob Hope, Barbara Mandrell, and Dolly Parton have been repeat performers.

Each year, the sale boasts some of the highest bids of any state fair in the nation. In 1996, the Sale of Champions made Ohio State Fair history with bids totaling $212,000 for eight livestock exhibits. The Youth Reserve Program was established in December 1995 to reward junior youth exhibitors that participate at the Ohio State Fair. The program allots funds for scholarships, Future Farmers of America (FFA), 4-H and other Fair competition winners.

One unique aspect of the Fair is the Butter Sculpture. In the early 1900s, the Ohio State University and the dairy processors of Ohio sponsored butter sculpting contests at the Fair. Each year a butter cow, and later a butter calf, are sculpted and have become a Fair tradition. Each sculpture takes approximately four weeks to complete, and approximately 1,500 pounds of real butter is used to make the sculpture. Another unique aspect of the Fair is the focus on llamas: A Llama Drill Team, a Llama Costume Contest and llama obstacle course (the "Leaping Llama" contest) for kids and their animals delight Fair spectators.

Originally submitted by: George V. Voinovich, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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