15 Activities Kids Can Do for Free at the Ohio State Fair

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A trip to the Ohio State Fair can be budget friendly AND fun when you mix in these 15 free activities for kids!

Thanks to Ohio State Fair for partnering with us on this post!

A trip to the Ohio State Fair can end up costing a whole family a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to! In the past few years that we have attended the Ohio State Fair, these are some activities my kids have really enjoyed that don’t cost anything beyond admission!

Save money with these free, kid-friendly activities within the grounds of the Ohio State Fair!

Don’t miss the list of special deals happening each day at the Ohio State Fair that I have listed at the end of this post!

1. Scavenger Hunt

Pick up a scavenger hunt form at the Agriculture is Cool tent and answer 10 questions throughout your journey through the fair. The answers are posted on signs in various locations that have the headline “Did you know?” If you answer them all, you can turn in your form for free ice cream! This is free for kids AND adults!

Ag is Cool Passport and Scavenger Hunt

If you want to do the scavenger hunt, make sure to enter through Gate 1 (Cardinal Gate or North Entrance) so you can hit up the Agriculture is Cool tent to pick up your scavenger hunt form and ice cream coupons first!

2. Dig and Dump in the Corn Bin

Boys playing in corn bin at Ohio State Fair

Inside the Agriculture is Cool tent, young kids will love dumping and scooping corn kernels. Every parent I’ve seen has had to drag their kids away from this display! 😉

3. Animal Shows

Kids who are into animals might enjoy watching other kids show their animals and win awards! Each day the Ohio State Fair prints a schedule for the day and you can pick it up at the entrance OR view or download the schedule of any given day online by clicking here.

4. Budweiser Clydesdales

Budweiser Clydesdales at Ohio State Fair

The whole family can walk through a tent to see the Budweiser Clydesdale horses up close, watch them get bathed and groomed and view their fancy saddles!

5. Live Entertainment

There are all sorts of free shows going on throughout each day on the Main Street and Gazebo Stages! Free live music from salsa to bluegrass to classic rock (schedule here) and other shows featuring jugglers, magic and illusions, ax throwing, a cappella singers, and more can also be seen (schedule here)!

6. Milk a Cow

Milk a Cow at Ohio State Fair

Kids can get up close and personal with a cow and learn how to milk it! Milk the cow from noon to 4:00 PM in the OVMA Veterinary Education Center. There will also be babies on display in that area. We saw newborn calves!

7. See the Butter Cow

Butter Cow at Ohio State Fair

This is a can’t miss Ohio State Fair exhibit! This year’s theme celebrates 35 years of A Christmas Story, the famous movie filmed in Cleveland in 1983!

8. Petting Zoo

Petting zoo at Ohio State Fair

Entrance to the Petting Zoo is free so kids can pet animals to their heart’s delight! At the door they sell small cups of carrots for $2 and large cups for $5. You can bypass these and buy dry feed out of machines for $.25 a handful.

9. Model Trains

Model Train at Ohio State Fair

The Cardinal Building is full of all kinds of fun arts and craft projects from doll houses to miniature displays and crafts made out of Brillo pads! Also in the building are several Model Train displays and a Thomas display kids can operate themselves!

10. Natural Resources Park

Natural Resources Park at Ohio State Fair

This fun area is maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – inside there is a butterfly house, watercraft simulator, fishing for kids, kayaking, archery and other educational displays and activities! This is a great area for kids and all of these activities are free!

11. Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear at Ohio State Fair

Kids will be amazed when a 14 foot Smokey Bear calls them by name! When walking through the Natural Resources Park, a worker will try to find out your kids’ names on the sly and pass them on so Smokey can personally remind your child never to play with matches!

12. Play in the Sand Box

Sand Box at Natural Resources Park at Ohio State Fair

My kids LOVE this sand box in the Natural Resources Park! It’s for kids age 5 and under and they ask you to limit your time in there to 15 minutes but as long as it’s not super busy, no one is clocking in and out!

13. Pig Races

Pig races take place several times a day in the Meijer Kiddieland area and are free to watch!

14. The Nerveless Nocks All American Stunt & Thrill Show

Watch daredevils as the perform crazy stunts like riding motorcycles around each other in a huge hamster wheel! 3 show times each day!

15. Mini Golf

Mini Golf at Ohio State Fair

Mini Golf gets an honorable mention here for costing less than a bottle of water! Inside the Beef building, kids can do a round of mini golf for $2.

Know Before You Go:

  • Regular admission at the gate is:
    $10 – Adults 13-59
    $8 – Seniors 60+
    $8 – Children 5-12
    Free – Children under 5
    $6 – Advance sale admission tickets
  • Parking is $5
  • Admission gates are open from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM (9:00 AM – 7:00 PM on August 5th.)
  • Rides will run from 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM and until midnight on Fridays and Saturday.

Other tips for saving money at the Ohio State Fair:

-Pack your own lunch or snacks

-Bring your own water bottle (no glass allowed). (Trust me on this one. I brought my water bottle but at the last minute I decided not to take it in because I didn’t feel like carrying it. I ended up buying two drinks just for me throughout the day!)

– Buy drinks from the vending machines. Most drinks at concession stands are $3 but cold drinks are also sold in vending machines around the grounds for $2.

– General admission tickets can be purchased online for $6 each or a four pack for $5 for each ticket through August 5th.

-Buy your tickets in person at Kroger or AAA for $6 each.

-As part of the Fourth Grade Agriculture is Cool Program, If you have an exiting 4th grader, that child and an adult can get in free any one day with a valid report card or valid homeschool form at the entrance.

– Print off this amazing sheet of coupons to use for food and other vendors!

Ohio State Fair Food Highway

Take advantage of one of these special days happening next week! See the entire list here.

Monday July 30th – NBC4 Family Discount Day – until 6 PM adults will be admitted for the kids’ admission price of $8 and kids 12 and under will be admitted free. Also, with the purchase of one wristband, a second rider can ride free until 6:00 PM with a hand stamp.

Tuesday, July 31 – Seniors ages 60 and up get in for $4

Thursday, August 2 – AAA members can show a current membership card to receive $4 admission vouchers for each member in your party.

Friday, August 3 – Patrons 18 and over can bring a non-winning Ohio Lottery ticket to receive one $4 admission voucher.

Saturday, August 4 – One Ohio soybean farmer or Ohio Soybean Association member will be given free Fair admission, with each member in their party receiving $4 admission with voucher from Ohio Soybean News magazine.

Sunday, August 5 – Bring any empty Pepsi container to the gate for a $3 admission voucher for every member of your party before 3:00 PM.

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Ohio State Fair, Columbus, Ohio


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