One of finest traditions in the Buckeye State is the Ohio State Fair. Taking the time to visit this exciting event and/or one of the many great fairs and festivals this summer will surely make for some rememberable and fun times for the entire family.
Of course the numbers of families and individuals attending these events is as high a concentration of the general public you’ll see in one place all year long. For example there were nearly a million people who attended the Ohio State Fair in 2015 setting a record for the third year in a row.
Fair manager Virgil Strickler said 982,305 people attended the 12-day feast of food, rides and farm animals. The increase is a 7.2 percent jump from 2014’s record-breaking attendance of 916,724.
Like other state fairs, the one in Columbus, Ohio’s capital, has many things you’d expect to find at such an event. These include rides, games, animals, and deep-fried foods. But every four years, this state fair boasts a big added attraction: presidential candidates and their entire entourage, along with congressional candidates, state candidates, county candidates, city candidates, township candidates, and every other possible office holder up for election or re-election from auditor to dog catcher. WOOF!
Most of the candidates participate in the same activities: They grill some meat. They shake hands and kiss babies. And they visit some of the fair’s famous sights, such as the cow sculpture made of butter…..(note to self: do not use butter as sunscreen).
Naturally, candidates also give speeches and talk to voters. But that can mean dealing with tough questions like; “do you just put butter on your bagel or do you add cream cheese?”; “do you use butter on your pancakes or syrup?”; “have you ever used butter as a sun-screen?” (note to self: do not ask about sun-screen when interviewing candidates).
Who’s Fair is it anyway? Do we really have to endure the speeches and name dropping, the bumper stickers on stollers, the I hate Hillary t-shirts, the Obama diapers, who knows, maybe even some anti-N.R.A. farmers……(LOL) maybe at the California State Fair.
Just be prepared to get stopped, answer questions, and possible argue with some Bernie Sanders supporter who still thinks he has a chance (even though he just recently endorsed his opponent – that lady who used to live in the White House that wasn’t President but acted like President then but wants to be President now, person.
Try not to let these events and actions by these people and their supports take away from having fun at the Fair. Remember you’re there for the kids, for the 4-H kids, the FFA kids, your kids. Enjoy the food, the music, the rides and shows. Enjoy the animals, the arts, the crafts, the history and the special events.
Over the years, Ohioans have gotten used to meeting presidential candidates face-to-face at the Ohio State Fair and other events —a chance most other Americans don’t get. And as these candidates look for followers at these and other events – I can’t help but remember what former U.S. House speaker, Ohio’s John Boehner told Jay Leno on his late-night television show: “A leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk.”
Because no one has ever won the White House without winning Ohio and November is so very close the Presidential candidates will probably be back in Ohio at other fairs and festivals…..looking for supporters, looking for voters, looking for followers while taking a very, very long walk. (note to self: locate short piers in Ohio)
Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!
The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.