The 156th Ohio State Fair began this week. As with every Ohio State Fair, this year’s edition features entertainment acts, performances by children’s choirs and bands, a butter sculpture, and tasty but horribly unhealthy foods, like elephant ears and the enticingly named “fried dough.” This year’s hot new food option apparently is deep-fried buckeyes — that is, deep-fried balls of peanut butter and chocolate fudge molded to look like a buckeye — which sell for 5 for $4.
Interestingly, this year the Ohio State Fair is specifically being marketed to appeal to people in the grip of the step-down phenomenon – in this case, people who can’t afford to travel long distances or take expensive vacations. Instead, those people take “staycations,” where they spend a day at some location within a reasonable driving distance. The Fair’s advertising is emphasizing the Fair’s value, the availability of coupons for Fair events and goodies, and other special deals. Fair organizers are hoping for record turnouts, if the weather cooperates.
I hope the weather is good and this year’s Fair sets attendance records. I like the entire Ohio State Fair experience — getting there early and touring the livestock barns to see the kids and families taking care of the animals they have raised and entered for judging, walking through the open-air flea market and new product pavilions, having lunch at one of the good, home-cooked food restaurants staffed by members of churches, and strolling along a hot and dusty midway with rides designed to cause people to lose the fried sauerkraut they just gobbled down. Through all of these activities, the Ohio State Fair is a great place for people watching — which is just another part of the good value people might be seeking in these recessionary times.