A conversation with…
Virgil Strickler, general manager of the Ohio Expo Center and the Ohio State Fair
OCJ: As we get ready to talk about the State Fair, what are this year’s dates?
Virgil: This year it’s July 26 through Aug. 6. Our entry deadline is June 21 at 1:00 p.m. and, of course, the website at ohiostatefair.com has all of those details.
OCJ: We have had a couple years of the final grand drives for all of the livestock species at combined events in the Coliseum, but this year we’re going back to the barns for the final drives. Is that correct?
Virgil: We put a lot of thought into this and we have to open up that Coliseum to get some of the horse events back in the fair. The draft horses will be back this year and, of course, the junior fair horses. We had to look at it that way and I’ve got to admit that I’m very sentimental about being in the actual facilities where they show for the final drives. I believe that you keep the crowd there and you’ll get more excitement out of the families that stay to watch those final drives. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why we’re going back to the barns. We’ll make it more spectacular for the kids so that they have more of what happened there in the Coliseum in those final drives, and we will be able to include all the families there in the facilities where the exhibitors have shown during the day and want to be a part of seeing the grand champion and reserve being picked.
OCJ: With the switch back to the individual barns for the final drives of each species, are we are going back to what we might refer to as the original barn drives schedule for the fair with the lambs early in the fair and then poultry, hogs and steers closer to the Sale of Champions?
Virgil: Yes. There’s another example of what I believe was really good — the way we had scheduled that over the years. I think it gives a lot more people the chance to see each facility instead of bringing it all in at one time for the breeds and then bringing it all in one time for the market animals. That schedule allows for a great time for the young people and their families with multiple generations all being a part of those barn drives and getting in and seeing that again at the Ohio State Fair.