Annual Festivals/Fairs » Columbus, OH

Annual Festivals/Fairs in Columbus, OH

The folks in Columbus know how to throw a party! This city has some of the best fairs and festivals around, and these are our top picks.
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Ohio State Fair

The Ohio State Fair is one of the best fairs around, and it truly is a celebration of our great state. It lasts a whopping 12 days at the end of July and early August, and manages to cram tons of fun into every day. Music headliners are always current big names, and they save the best for last with a huge concert at Crew Stadium next door on the last night. The first day is always free, but it’s also packed. If you want to go that day, get there early and plan for long lines all day. For discount tickets, buy yours at any Central Ohio Kroger through the end of the fair. Make sure to stop in and see the butter cow – it’s a life-sized cow sculpture made entirely of butter, and it’s a crowd favorite year after year.

Franklin County Fair

The Fairfield County Fair is a lot like many of the other fairs you’re used to. There are carnival games, fried treats and food on a stick. Don’t forget the barns full of farm animals and the tractor pulls, as well as the many competitions for fair royalty. Entrance to the fair isn’t too pricey. It ranges from $5 to $6, depending on the day. The rides are all $2 for and $3 for adults, which doesn’t sound like much but it adds up fast. If you’ve got a little on who likes to ride, invest in a daily ride ticket, which ranges from $10 to $15. Parking for the fair is free. The Franklin County Fair takes place for one week, usually right in the middle of July.

Jazz and Rib Fest

This annual event, held on the streets of the Arena District in downtown Columbus, brings together several area rib vendors and live jazz music for three days at the end of each July. Taste as many of the ribs as you can, and vote for your favorite recipe to win. Admission is free, though you do have to pay for the food you eat. Parking is available in any garage or surface lot in the Arena District, although parking in that area tends to get pricey when a big event is going on. Go early for the best spots. If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, you’ll find cheaper spots outside of the Arena District. Seating is provided near the larger performance areas, but that tends to fill up quickly. Bring a blanket or a chair if you son’t want to stand while you eat.

The Arnold Sports Festival

Every year in March, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself graces Columbus for a few days for the Arnold Sports Festival and Fitness Expo. If you’re into fitness (or just looking for a celebrity sighting) you’ll love this event. Over 700 booths pack the Convention Center to bring you everything you ever wanted to know about fitness equipment and gear, health food, nutrition supplements and more. The whole time you roam the booths, pay attention to what’s happening on the stage. There is constant entertainment, including body building contests and the Strong Man Competition. Keep your eyes open, because Arnold, as well as many other celebrities, can often be spotted in the crowd. In fact, many national television news programs, such as ET and Extra, have been known to film from here that week.

Asian Festival

Every Memorial Day weekend, Franklin Park Conservatory comes alive to celebrate the Asian Culture. Professional entertainers and instructors from all over the country come to Columbus to demonstrate the culture they love. The Asian Festival includes Asian games, entertainment, demonstrations, a marketplace, a lion dance, Asian kites, a career fair and the best Asian cuisine this city has to offer. See a real dragon boat race at Genoa Park, and get lessons to learn how to maneuver one of these great boats on your own. Admission and parking for this event is free, and free shuttles are provided from several parking locations. Check the website for a list of parking locations.