My So Charmed Life

How Do You Fair?



The Ohio State Fair is a sacred holy place for me. I grew up in Columbus and worked at the Fair starting at age 14, in the James Cox Fine Arts building. Days were spent counting attendees on a clicker and trying (unsuccessfully) to keep the sticky fingers of fairgoing kids off the art. During our lunch break we’d walk through the Poultry & Rabbit building across the street, looking for fallen tailfeathers from exotic birds (yes, there are some mighty exotic chickens) with which to make jewelry or tie in our hair. Working at the Fair, I met and fell in love with one of the most influential people in my life, a young surrealist painter who took me to see an Andy Warhol movie at the drive in, taught me about anarchy and challenged everything I thought I knew about art. Fair nights were spent laughing on the midway, eating deepfried mini donuts, and screaming all the way down the Giant Slide which was conveniently located just behind our building. There’s more, so much more to tell.

Thirty-five years later I find I must return to the Fair and have been three times in the past 5 years. My viewpoint has changed, and despite my sophisticated ironic attitude, there is a part of me that loves this place. For real. And although it’s possible I’ve seen (and photographed) it all, walking through the giant gates (pictured above), I am still filled with heart-pounding excitement at the thrills we will find within.


Charlie the Clown greets us as we enter this year’s Fair.



We did not eat the Beef Sundae. We did eat deep fried pickles, free Mentos handouts, free ice cream and loads of candy.


Molly stands at the gates of heaven.


Inside we are not disappointed, although later we are to have a candy disaster (read on, my friend).

Best of show in Youth Arts & Crafts. By Tiffanny (with two n’s).


I am not sure why the judges didn’t pick this as Best in Show. This piece gets my personal award for Best in Show, so there.


I had to seriously talk myself out of stealing this award-winning cake. It was just sitting there. I wanted it soooo bad.


Molly always makes me go on rides that seem fairly innocent, but are somehow terrifying all the same. This one gave me a stomach ache, a mid-level anxiety attack, and a pending sense of imminent doom. It was fun though! I got Molly back by making her go on the Rock & Roll ride (which used to be called the Himalaya). Another seemingly innocent ride during which we screamed bloody murder and gave up our atheism for about 90 seconds. At least the ride designers (who HAS that fantastic job and where do I apply?) had the good sense to picture The Godfather among the graphic representations of great musicians (below).



This is my favorite of this year’s photos. It somehow depicts the glory and terror that is the Midway.


The sheep building is a very fragrant place. Sheep are terribly cute, but incredibly stinky. Second only to goats.


A person could spend an entire day looking at the bunnies. Who knew there were so many adorable, strange, wonderful varieties. Some were for sale; as pets and also as food. Most of the bunny exhibitors are young girls who are happy to talk with you and tell you the bun’s names, personalities, breeds and anything else you want to know. We spent the beginning and the end of our day at the fair visiting the bunnies. Unfortunately, due to being so utterly distracted by the largest bunny I’ve ever seen (“Tiny,” pictured below, weighing in at 15 pounds), we left our 6 pound bag of bulk candy in Poultry & Rabbits as we suddenly realized time had escaped us and we’d be late for our friends picking us up.

There’s always next year.


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