The 2016 Ohio State Fair, which runs July 27 through Aug. 7, could easily win a blue ribbon for the variety of activities available to families-many of which are included in the price of admission.

The 2016 Ohio State Fair, which runs July 27 through Aug. 7, could easily win a blue ribbon for the variety of activities available to families-many of which are included in the price of admission.

The fair caters to children with a wide array of interests, said spokeswoman Alicia Shoults. Offerings range from science and technology exhibits and cooking demonstrations to fishing lessons and barn tours.

The Youth Center, the Agriculture is Cool exhibit and the Natural Resources Park top Shoults' list of must-sees for families. The Youth Center hosts STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities throughout the fair. Visitors can observe experiments, see robotics demonstrations and much more. "Any day of the fair, there will be something different and exciting going on in the Youth Center," Shoults said.

Visitors to the Agriculture is Cool exhibit will receive a passport that takes them on a tour of the fairgrounds. Children will learn interesting facts about agriculture, meet children and adults who live and work on farms, and see livestock while they collect stamps for their passports. Attendees can check out exhibits about shearing sheep or milking cows to gain a better understanding of how agricultural products end up in their homes, she said.

"People are removed from farm life and experiences," Shoults said. "This is a way they can learn about them during a day at the fair. It really shows how your day is impacted by farming and agriculture."

The Natural Resources Park also offers lots of free entertainment. The lumberjack show features demonstrations such as log rolling and carving that might be new to many children, she said. The 8-acre park also includes a butterfly house, camping displays and the opportunity to visit with Smokey Bear. Children also can try their hand at archery and fishing in the park.

There are so many ways to buy discounted fair tickets, Shoults jokes that families have to "go out of their way" to pay full price. Full-price tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 5-12. Ages 4 and younger are free. Advance tickets can be purchased at Kroger, AAA and Ticketmaster locations for $6. The fair also offers numerous daily specials that are detailed on its website, ohiostatefair.com.

- Melissa Kossler Dutton