In 1886, what is now known as the Ohio Expo Center became the permanent home of the Ohio State Fair. Years of planning and the acquisition of more than 100 acres of beautiful land adjacent to a major railroad intersection in Columbus culminated on August 30, 1886 when the 37th Ohio State Fair opened its gates. The grounds was comprised of a half-mile track and 5,000-seat grandstand, a magnificent main exhibition building, the Power Hall to hold machinery, several small lakes covering approximately three and a half acres, and dozens of barns designed to hold 448 horses, 420 head of cattle, 400 sheep and 450 hogs.
Today, the Ohio Expo Center is one of the most dynamic and unique event venues in the Midwest. It occupies 360 acres in the heart of Columbus, located within a half-day drive for half the nation’s population, and just north of downtown and minutes from Port Columbus International Airport, shopping and hotels.
With more than one million square feet of event space under roof, on-site parking for 12,000 vehicles, seating for 20,000 people and ties for 2,000 cattle, the Ohio Expo Center is one of the most flexible and accommodating sites available. The campus includes 20 unique buildings including historic turn-of-the-century pavilions, modern livestock facilities, multi-purpose buildings, a basketball court, an ice rink and a 10,000-seat arena, the Ohio Expo Center is a facility that can be customized for various events.
In 2011, the Ohio Expo Center was home to five of Columbus’ top 10 events: the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, Equine Affaire, Goodguys Rod & Custom Car Show, Ohio Beef Expo and Deer & Turkey Expo.
In addition to being home to the annual Ohio State Fair and the Columbus Crew, a Major League Soccer team, more than 150 year-round events are proud to call the Ohio Expo Center home. Events of all types, from sporting events (such as the Ohio Roller Girls Roller Derby, Buckeye Classic gymnastics show, and Ohio Central District Basketball Tournaments), consumer shows (including the Central Ohio Home and Garden Show, Boat & RV Show and Scott Antique Market), banquets, weddings, meetings and conferences are held at the facility each year.
Ohio Expositions Commission
The Ohio Expositions Commission was established in 1961 when the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation creating a new governing body for the Ohio Expo Center. Prior to 1961, the State Board of Agriculture oversaw the Center. The Commission maintains and manages state property reserved for the purpose of conducting at least one Fair annually.
The Commission comprises 14 members, (nine of whom are appointed by the Governor), plus five ex-officio members: the Agricultural Chair of the Ohio Senate, the Agricultural and Natural Resources Chair of the Ohio House of Representatives, the Director of Development, the Director of Agriculture and the Director of Natural Resources.
Of the nine Commission members appointed by the Governor, no more than five may be from any one political party. Expiration of appointed terms is staggered to ensure the continuity of the Commission at all times.
Tamara Brown, Ohio Development Services Agency designee, Columbus
Tom Charles, Pickerington
David T. Daniels, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Hillsboro
Andrew Doehrel, Galena
Rep. Brian Hill, House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Chair, Zanesville
Sen. Cliff Hite, Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chair, Findlay
Jennifer K. Lynch, Secretary, Columbus
David Madison, Bexley
Tom Price, Chair, Delaware
Steve Reinhard, Vice Chair, Bucyrus
Gregory Simpson, Milford
Doug White, Manchester
James Zehringer,Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Columbus
Virgil Strickler, General Manager, Lakeview