D.I.Y. Samurai: Fair with a Chance of Handmade Goodness

Aug 5, 2009 at 10:28 am

The Ohio State Fair kicked off in Columbus last week when I realized that I could not actually remember ever attending it. I’ve been to a million church festivals over the years, and even a few county fairs, but it’s been at least 15 years since I have been to the statewide extravaganza. Banking that there would be loads of crafts, gardening and other D.I.Y. goodness to report on, Jason and I headed to Ohio’s capital Sunday afternoon.—-

I must share all of the exciting, shocking and disappointing aspects of the fair, but first thing’s first. The butter cow:

 …Because nothing brings the family together like butter! Since 1903, a hand-sculpted cow and calf made entirely of butter have been exhibited at the Ohio State Fair. For over 40 years, it’s been a tradition that the butter heifers are joined by different characters each year. This year the cow was accompanied by a farmer and a vet, and the calf was being fed by a little girl and her father. The whole installation called for 1,800 pounds of buttah. Tacky? Kinda. But definitely an example of some down-home D.I.Y.

Like nearly every fair, various crafters competed in different mediums for prizes. Categories included knitting, quilting, designer cake decorating, scrapbooking and even decoupaging! My favorite group of crafts had to be the duct tape creations. Duck Tape brand sponsored a tiny art booth that sold craft kits and various colors of the magical fix-it-all. If you check out the fair, be sure to get there early and attend a duct tape craft class. I just missed a duct tape wallet demo that looked awesome.

Here’s just one example of the vivid duct tape decor:

The Ohio State Fair also offered another venue for artist’s creations that were less crafty and more fine-arty. Ohio artists showcased their paintings, sculptures and installations in a gallery setting, which was a nice change of pace. There were tons of forward-thinking art on display, but one of my favorite pieces was “Jasper”:

This colorful pony consisted of wire and recycled pop cans.  The piece was befitting for the fair this year, as there was much more focus on recycling than in years past.

One staple at every fair is the smorgasbord of high-calorie treats. While I somehow managed to forego all the chocolate-dipped, deep-fried, cheese-coated treats, I had to stop and appreciate one booth that took home cookin’ to the max:

This is not your average fried dough and waffle stand. See that old timey contraption next to the booth? That’s where they grind up their own flour to make their own dough which they flash-fry on site. Homemade isn’t always healthier, but it was pretty cool.

I must digress for a moment and comment on one attraction I was not expecting to see… SIDESHOWS!

I didn’t know how to react to this mess. On one hand, I am oddly obsessed with circus history and turn-of-the-century traveling shows which definitely had “freak shows.” However, it’s 2009. Who knew sideshows still existed?!

Okay, back to topic at hand. I had fun at the fair, but I was really disappointed that I could not purchase any homegrown plants or vegetables, handmade crafts, honey, jam, etc. If you want to leave with a souvenir, I guess some kitchen cutlery or an off-brand Sham Wow will have to suffice. I did spend a ton of time at some awesome booths that sold vintage signs, posters and jewelry, which I didn’t expect to see. But the limited options to support local artists and farmers was a little disappointing.

All in all, if it’s been a decade or two since you’ve stepped foot on fairgrounds, I say it’s time for another visit. If you live in or around Ohio, check out the Fair’s Web site for coupons and tips to save cash while you’re there. ‘Til then, here’s a glimpse of the fairgrounds from the Sky Ride!