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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


Kids Eat Free in Columbus and Central Ohio

ICYMI: Kids Eat Free or Cheap in Columbus and Central Ohio

 


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What Should We Do This Weekend? July 29-31, 2016

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1. Ohio State Fair 

When: Wednesday, July 27 – Sunday, August 7, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Location: Ohio Expo Center, 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211

Concerts, rides, roving entertainment, food, educational exhibits, animals, shopping and LOTS of events make up the Ohio State Fair!

2. Preschoolers: Creek Adventures at Battelle Darby Metro Park

When: Friday, July 29, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM
Location: 1775 Darby Creek Dr., Galloway, OH 43119
Phone: 614-508-8111

Your preschoolers can wade in the creek and meet little creatures that live there!

3. Book to Film at Gateway Film Center

When: Friday, July 29 – Thursday, August 4, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM
Location: 1550 North High St., Columbus, Ohio 43201
Phone: 614-247-4433

Watch the movie Coraline free with your library card at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM screenings. This is also the weekend for the Hoot Film Series.

4. Tram and Campfire at Glacier Ridge

When: Friday, July 29, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Red Oak Trailhead, 9801 Hyland Croy Rd., Plain City, OH 43064
Phone: 614-971-5211, Chrissy Hoff

Take a tram ride through the park and have s’mores at the campfire! Tram rides are offered every 45 minutes from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM. S’mores will be provided by Metro Parks along with roasting sticks and you are free to bring your own food to roast over the campfire! All ages are welcome!

5. Paddington at Topiary Park

When: Friday, July 29, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Location: 480 East Town St., Columbus. Ohio 43215
Phone: 614-645-0197

Come watch a movie in Topiary Park! The movie starts at dusk but there will be food trucks, crafts and more before hand! Bring a blanket!

6. Drive-In Movie at Zoombezi Bay

When: Friday, July 29, 2016
Time: 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Location: 4850 W. Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065
Phone: 614-645-3550

Watch Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip from the Wild Tides Wave Pool! There will be activities before the movie, as well.

7. Bugstravaganza at Walnut Woods

When: Saturday, July 30, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: Buckeye Area, 6716 Lithopolis Rd., Groveport, OH 43125
Phone: 614-508-8111

All ages are invited to celebrate bugs, insects, butterflies and more! Learn about pollinators, see these insects close up and participate in crafts and games!

8. Drop In: Ocean Adventure at Hilliard Branch, Columbus Metropolitan Library

When: Saturday July 30, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: 4772 Cemetery Rd., Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-645-2275

All ages are welcome to stop in to explore the wonders of the ocean!

9. Crafts for Kids at Slate Farm

When: Saturday, July 30, 2016
Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Farmhouse, 1375 State Route 674 N., Canal Winchester, OH 43110
Phone: 614-508-8111

Come to Slate Farm to make and take some old-fashioned crafts!

10. Gahanna’s Great Outdoors “Throwback” Parks and Rec Party at Friendship Park

When: Saturday, July 30, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Location: 150 Oklahoma Ave., Gahanna, OH 43230

Gahanna Parks and Rec celebrates National Parks and Recreation Month with games from the 70’s and beyond! Participate in activities like Olympic themed track and field events, lulling chickens to sleep, stickball, music and crafts, canoeing, hiking and more! There will also be a campfire and food trucks! The evening ends with the movie Swiss Family Robinson.

11. Harry Potter Release Party at Barnes and Noble

When: Saturday, July 30, 2016
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: your local Barnes and Noble

Join other Harry Potter Fans for the countdown to the midnight release of the eighth Harry Potter book!

12. Powell Street Market

When: Sunday, July 31, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: Downtown Powell

The streets of downtown Powell will be lined with vendors selling arts and crafts, edibles, jewelry and more! There will also be food trucks on site and pony rides! Admission and parking are free!

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ICYMI: 12 Columbus Parks to Try This Summer

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*


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