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Changes proposed to Ohio Expo CenterChanges proposed to Ohio Expo Center

The recommendations include preserving the historical presence of the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.

March 30, 2022

3 Min Read
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WEIGHING IN: Several ag groups are proposing changes and developing a long-term vision for the Ohio Expo Center.romaset/Getty Images

Nine major Ohio agriculture groups are proposing changes to modernize the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair. It’s part of a process to ensure that the input, ideas and concerns of the agriculture industry, including preserving the current location and footprint with a strong investment for improvements, are properly incorporated into the state’s new Vision Plan.

Objectives include the mission and vision for the Expo Center; land use and optimization; the overall experience for youth and the public; and funding, governance and operations.

These proposals were sent to Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Expo and State Fair Commission, the state of Ohio, other public sector leaders and influencers, as well as the Ohio Expo 2050 Task Force, which the governor created to develop and recommend a long-term vision for the Ohio Expo Center.

The agricultural groups’ guidelines for facilities and infrastructure call for upgrading the facilities at the Expo Center and State Fair that will allow for maximum earned revenue opportunities.

To generate sustainable funding to support the Expo Center and State Fair, the groups suggested the General Assembly pass a multiyear funding measure in the state budget to improve facilities, grounds and infrastructure, as well as the implementation of a pricing study to ensure that it is competitive and properly positioned in the market to attract more events throughout the year.

Recommendations include:

  • a new facility to replace the Ohio Building to accommodate increased crowds who want to taste what the state’s agriculture has to offer and will provide opportunities to feature additional agricultural food offerings

  • replacing the dilapidated Donahey Agriculture & Horticulture Building, which currently serves as the fair’s flagship agriculture consumer education exhibit

  • a new facility to replace the outdated Cooper Arena and a modernized Dairy Products Building, designed to enhance the fairgoer experience when visiting the World-Famous Butter Cow

  • leveraging and preserving use of the viaduct, which is an important feature of the fairgrounds that needs repair and maintenance as it is used during many events to house cattle when there is not enough barn space available.

  • redesigned parking throughout the fairgrounds, including new parking garages, to meet the needs of the fair and the numerous other agricultural and non-ag events at the Expo Center

  • conducting an evaluation of the safety and security at the Expo Center and State Fair, and developing and implementing recommendations to ensure the well-being of all who engage with the venue

  • building a new multiuse agriculture facility to provide flexibility and needed space for multiple events

The groups include the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Dairy Producers Association, Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Poultry Association, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Soybean Association.

The Ohio FFA Center is located on the fairgrounds. and agricultural groups host many major events at the Expo Center such as the Ohio Beef Expo, Ohio National Poultry Show, Quarter Horse Congress, Spring Dairy Expo, youth events, Home and Garden Shows and others.

The recommendations include preserving the historical presence of the Ohio State Fair in Columbus and maintaining its easily accessible location. It is well documented that the most dynamic and successful state fairs across the country are located in highly populated, urban areas, so moving the venue would be detrimental to the mission and to the financial viability of the state fair. 

Source: Ohio Expo Center & State Fair, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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