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First full Ohio State Fair since 2019 opens for a 12-day run

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Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Gov. Mike DeWine, accompanied by his wife Fran and five of their grandchildren, gives a thumbs-up to a performer as they tour the 2022 Ohio State Fair after the opening ceremony.

The Ohio State Fair is back in full for the first time since 2019.

A threat of rain moved opening ceremonies to Kasich Hall, named for a governor who wasn’t a fan of the tradition of spending the night at the fair.

“To be determined," DeWine said when asked if he'll stay at the fair for a night during its 12-day run.

He did decide to stay, as he revealed in a post on Twitter and Facebook later.

General manager Virgil Strickler said two years without the more than 900,000 annual fair attendees hurt the bottom line, but the fair is on firm financial footing now.

The 2020 fair was canceled for COVID, and last year was limited to just 4-H and livestock exhibitors.

DeWine also spoke out about new inspections on the fair's 65 rides that are required after Tyler's Law, a measure named for 18 year old Tyler Jarrell, who was killed when the Fireball ride malfuctioned in 2017. "We have an obligation to be vigilant and we have an obligation to learn from this horrible, horrible tragedy. And, you know, these rides cannot be inspected enough," DeWine said.

And attendees at this year's Ohio State Fair can also legally carry concealed weapons onto the fairgrounds, as well as openly carry weapons. That's allowed because of a Republican-backed law that DeWine signed in March that removes the requirements for Ohioans to get permits to carry concealed weapons.

DeWine said he's not concerned about the possibility of a shooting, but "we need to be careful and you know, this can occur whenever you have people gathered together. It can be someone has a gun, certainly. But what we worry about is people who, you know, have bad intentions with those guns. We don't worry about, you know, good, good citizens."

Fair management has said that security, which is always provided by the Ohio Higwhay Patrol, has been stepped up this year, and that all attendees will still have to pass through metal detectors to enter the fair. Weapons aren't permitted in buildings on the fairgrounds.

The Ohio State Fair runs through August 7.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.
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