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Ohioans can carry guns at first full Ohio State Fair in three years

 People walk down the midway on opening day of the Ohio State Fair in 2019.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
People walk down the midway on opening day of the Ohio State Fair in 2019.

Next Wednesday, the Ohio State Fair in Columbus will be open for visitors for the first time since 2019. COVID canceled the 2020 fair, and last year’s was for livestock exhibitors only.

This year along with those shows, the concerts, the rides, the food and the Butter Cow, there’s a change that will allow weapons on the fairgrounds.

As of last month Ohio law allows people to be armed without a permit. Ohio State Fair Assistant General Manager Alicia Shoults said that means gun owners can both carry concealed weapons and openly carry at the fair.

“All patrons must continue to pass through those metal detectors you mentioned upon entry to the Ohio State Fair. And the current procedures at the fair are in compliance with state law," Shoults said. "So fairgoers carrying a firearm, concealed or open, are permitted to enter only the outdoor portions of the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair only."

Shoults added, "If anyone carrying a firearm would like to enter a building, they'll be given the opportunity to return the firearm to his or her vehicle and then return to the fair with a handstamp. And all of the buildings have signs posted prohibiting the carrying of a weapon, concealed or open."

The Ohio Highway Patrol will provide security for the fair as always, and Shoults said this time there will be increased security measures.

More than 934,000 people came to the last full fair in 2019.

As for other changes to the Fair, Shoults said "it's been kind of nice, actually, to have a positive opportunity to reimagine some different areas and make sure that we're doing things the best we possibly can." She noted many sporting events have been moved from the non-air conditioned Buckeye Building to Kasich Hall, which is air conditioned and more centrally located.

The Ohio State Fair starts on July 27 and runs through August 7. Admission is $10, with $8 discounted advanced sale tickets only available through July 26. Free parking is available in the lots north of the Cardinal Gate on the north side of the fairgrounds.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.