On Wednesday amidst a few light showers, the Ohio State Fair kicked off with our wonderful All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir and Marching Band! It was so good to be back! The fairgrounds looked amazing with beautiful flowers everywhere.
Mike and I had five of our grandkids with us to enjoy our tour. We headed out from the air conditioned Kasich Hall to get some food and see the sights. One of our traditions is to stop by Schmidt’s to grab a Bahama Mama and cream puff. We looked at all of the food — corn on the cob and turkey legs and funnel cakes and corn dogs — and began planning our culinary treats for the rest of the week. Then, Grady, 7, and Steve, 9, were ready to head to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Park to do some fishing and kayaking. Three-year-old Tadhg led us there. He followed the bear prints all the way to the giant Smokey the Bear. He was amazed that Smokey knew his name!
Next, we cut the ribbon on the new accessible children’s playground. Then, we got in line to fish. Special ODNR helpers showed the kids how to use a cane pole and helped bait them with wax worms. The moment Tadhg dropped his fishing line into the water a bluegill bit immediately. What a thrill! The kids were allowed to catch two fish each. Then we walked over to the trailer to watch experts clean the fish and fry them up. Tadhg wasn’t sure he wanted to eat them!
From there we headed to the kayak pond. The kids suited up in life jackets and learned safety tips and rowing lessons before they got in the kayaks. The pond was about 2 feet deep and adult guides waded in the water to help kids navigate and learn how to kayak around the little pond. (Tadhg was heartbroken that he was not tall enough so we found the new Dunkleosteus fossil fish and other things to climb on.)
We checked out the Agriculture Building where kids virtually combined a wheat field, flew a drone, and extracted DNA from a strawberry. Before the day was over we had enjoyed our ice cream and shakes in the Dairy Barn and found the largest boar in the hog barn that we could possibly imagine. Everyone helped plant a beautiful bur oak tree in the ODNR amphitheater and checked out the really cool yurt that we were spending the night in. ODNR has a couple dozen in their state parks (most at Kelleys Island). It was beautiful and fun, and certainly an upgrade from tent camping! The five of us had a good night’s sleep before heading out across the fairgrounds to find a delicious country breakfast and checking out the Sheep Barn just before open class judging started.
Today the kids and I are doing a cooking demonstration at the fair. I am taking a few stalks of wheat, and a bucket full that was combined from our own field last month. We are going to let kids grind their own wheat with a little hand grinder, and we’re going to teach the kids to make dough. I think it’s so important for kids to know where their food comes from. So we’ll chop some vegetables, too, and make some pizza. While the dough is baking we’ll read The Little Red Hen. I hope to have lots of little helpers.
There’s so much to do at the fair. We can’t wait to see the baby animals and watch kids with their 4-H projects. I’ll be reading to kids and doing crafts to promote the Dolly Parton Imagination Library all through next week, too. It’s fair time in our county and in our state. We’re so happy it’s back!
1 cup warm water
1 packet yeast (1 Tablespoon)
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
Stir together to dissolve. Add:
2 1/2 cups flour (can be part whole wheat). Add more if sticky.
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix all together. Put a little flour on the counter and let the kids knead it for a bit. Put back in oiled bowl and let it rise about half an hour.
I let each child take a small ball of dough and press it out with their fingers on a piece of foil (spray foil with oil first). Let them put on the sauce, cheese and favorite toppings. Put on cookie sheet and bake until cheese is bubbly.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.