COLUMBUS (WKBN) – As people walked into the Ohio State Fair Wednesday morning for the ceremonial ribbon cutting and grand opening, they were greeted by a number of mascots.
One of them was an astronaut, complete with a gold reflective radiation shield and a cut-out of Ohio’s border. Pulling people in for pictures shot through the frame of Ohio’s border, the astronaut gave the camera a thumbs up.
It is a depiction of Ohio’s contribution to history. It’s timely, given this year is the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing.
Another mascot is this year’s butter sculpture, serving as a second display of Ohio pride.
There may be no one prouder of Ohio than Governor Mike DeWine.
“This fair is about so many different things. It really is an opportunity to showcase the state of Ohio, it’s an opportunity for us to brag a little bit,” he said moments before opening the fair.
DeWine wants people to remember to celebrate agriculture and the hard work young people put in to get their 4H and FFA projects to the fair.
He proudly told the crowd in attendance that his children were part of 4H for 34 years and every once in a while, one of them would have a project at the fair. One of them was a rocket.
Bringing his grandchildren on stage to help cut the ribbon, DeWine also wanted people to focus on the fair being about family.
He and his wife, Fran, then toured the fair with two of their grandchildren.
Every once in a while, a fairgoer would stop DeWine for a word or two, then he would rejoin his family, often taking his granddaughter by the hand.
The two strolled down one of the midways together, surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the fair.
The governor visited with livestock competitors and took time to talk to the young people who brought their animals to compete.
They offered him the opportunity to help clean a sheep, to which he graciously declined but was tempted to reach out and touch the animal.
The Kinsmans, who own the animal, were happy he took the time to visit them.
“We really appreciate what he’s done for the AG community, and it’s just great to see him out and just getting to touch and shaking hands. We love, just love seeing him around,” Lynn Kinsman said.
But it wasn’t just handshakes and smiles for DeWine on Wednesday. He made an announcement before taking his tour, saying he would be asking the legislature to pursue a change in sentencing law for felons who are caught with a gun.
DeWine wants to see the punishment for violating state law raised to be on par with federal punishments for the same crime. He said that would make Ohio streets safer.
DeWine followed the same path Governor Kasich followed on his fair tours but did not complete it Wednesday.
His predecessor would pass through the butter sculpture display and head to the Department of Natural Resources exhibit before finishing his tour with a visit to the butterfly house.
DeWine pulled up short of that, choosing to stop at the Taste of Ohio Café so he could watch his wife give a cooking demonstration to — and with — children. They made pizza. He watched attentively and smiled.