History of The Ohio State Fair

I realize that there may not be broad-based interest in this article but the impact of this fair is tremendous for many people in the Ohio sheep industry.  TAB

A History of the Ohio State Fair

The first Ohio State Fair was held on the site of Camp Washington about two and a half miles from what was then the center of Cincinnati, on the Miami Canal.  The listings of premiums and regulations for the first annual Fair shows the dates for this event to be the 11th, 12th and 13th of September 1850, however, it was postponed until the first week in October.

An Agricultural convention was held in Columbus, June 25 and 26, 1845 in which friends of Agriculture from all sections of the State participated.  One of the results of this gathering was the organization of a Board of Agriculture whose object was to encourage, promote and aid an exhibition of farm products at county and district gatherings.  This was largely due to the influence of M. B. Bateham, Michael L. Sullivant, and Samuel Medary of Columbus and Franklin County.

The Ohio legislature passed an act February 27, 1846, which created and set up an official State Board of Agriculture consisting of 53 members.  On February 8, 1847, the law was amended and the number of members was reduced to ten.  December 6, 1848, the Board met in Columbus and resolved to hold a State Fair in the ensuing September.  A committee was appointed to receive propositions as to location but owing to the subsequent outbreak of Asiatic Cholera the action was recalled and the first Ohio State Fair did not take place until October 2, 3, and 4, 1850.

Those serving on the State Board of Agriculture at the time for the first State Fair in 1850 were:  M.L. Sullivant, President, of Columbus, Ohio; Samuel Medary, Treasurer, of Columbus, Ohio; M. B. Bateham, Secretary, of Columbus, Ohio; Darius Lapham of Cincinnati, Ohio; F. R. Elliot of Cleveland, Ohio; Jacob T Pugsley of Fayette County; Arthur Watts of Ross County; J. M. Edwards of Mahoning County; Cornelius Springer of Muskingum County; and J. G. Gest of Greene County.

Prior to the first Ohio State Fair, District Fairs were held in various places throughout the state; the first such event being held in Wilmington, Ohio on October 20-21, 1847.  The second district fair was held at Xenia, September 20-21, 1848.  Plans were well under way for the first State Fair in 1849, when the Board cancelled all plans and preparations because many cities and communities reported an epidemic of Asiatic Cholera.  At a meeting of the State Board in June, 1950, it was agreed that a State Fair would be held that year.

Direct transportation facilities were available from the Capital of the State to within a short distance of the fairgrounds through the efforts of Alfred Kelley, President of the Columbus to Xenia railroad, and Jeremiah Morrow, President of the first railroad out of Cincinnati to Xenia.  Fair visitors were allowed reduced rates and all animals and articles for exhibition were transported free of charge.  Animals and articles for exhibition were received until 12:00 o’clock noon the first day of the Fair, after which they were judged.  They were then put on general exhibition to the public for two days.  A price of twenty cents was charged for each single admission to the grounds.  Over the grounds were several booths for selling refreshments in addition to the fine exhibits.

The Ohio Cultivator, an agricultural magazine, published at Columbus by M. B. Bateham, Secretary of the Board, had the following to say: “The beauty and fitness of the grounds and the liberal and convenient arrangements of the committee were commended by all.  The spectacle presented to the beholder during the height of the Fair was very grand and animating.  The spacious inclosure with its grassy slopes and inviting shade trees, its numerous tents and booths with waving flags and streamers, the throngs of cheerful spectators; the countless carriages, omnibuses, and canal boats, all moving and swarming with people; the prancing of horses and lines of stately cattle; all combined to produce an effect on the minds of the spectators not easily forgotten by such as never before attended an exhibition of this kind.”  To editor Bateham should go great credit for his editorial column which was the most influential factor in promoting the idea of holding a State Fair.

When the first State Fair was held, Michael L. Sullivant, President of the Board, was the largest and most prosperous farmer and stock raiser in Franklin County, perhaps the entire State, and received several awards on his fine livestock.  For the best cow over three years old, “Patsy”, he received a premium of $15.00.  For the best heifer, “Jenny Lind”, he received a premium of $5.00.  For the best jack “Tigertail”, Mr. Sullivant received an award of $10.00 and for the best pair of mules he received an award of $10.00.  Other livestock exhibited by Mr. Sullivant included one yearling heifer, “Dahlia 2nd”, one yearling heifer, “Jessica”, one cow, “Young Lady Bet”, one Dorking hen and chickens, and one English rabbit.

Mr. F. R. Elliott, proprietor of the Lake Erie Nursery, Cleveland, had charge of decorating and arranging the floral display.  Mr. Elliott also exhibited a display of 57 varieties of pears, each variety carrying a name, for which he received a silver medal.

Another of the original members of the first State Board of Agriculture who contributed much to the success of the first State Fair was Mr. Darius Lapham, a canal engineer and practical farmer.  He served as the first State Fair Manager and his task was well under way when he was fatally stricken with the Asiatic Cholera and died before the opening of the Fair.  He was held in high esteem by the friends of agriculture and the work he performed toward the promotion of the first State Fair, without compensation, exceeded that of any other member of the Board.

Machinery exhibits at the first Fair included a corn cultivator, invented by James Ferguson of Franklin County.  This was a cultivator to be pulled by one horse between the rows of corn.  It was made with steel teeth set in a wooden frame and had two wooden handles which would be held for guiding by a man following the cultivator.  Other pieces of machinery included the “Hussey” reaping machine for cutting grain.  The reaper merely cut the grain and left it laying on the ground as the machine was pulled around the field by horses, this being an improvement over the former method of cutting the grain by man power with a scythe.

Although the Board reported a small deficit, the first Ohio State Fair was considered a pronounced success.  Between twenty-five and thirty thousand people had traveled from varying distances to view and exhibit in what was to become the great institution we have today.

Following the holding of the first State Fair at Cincinnati, it was held in several cities throughout the State.  This was done for the convenience of exhibitors and visitors, as roads were poor and traveling was slow and laborious.  The big show was held in Columbus in 1851, then in Cleveland, 1952; Dayton, 1853; Newark, 1854; Columbus, 1855; Cleveland, 1856; Cincinnati, 1857; Sandusky, 1858; Zanesville, 1859; Dayton, 1860 and 1861; Cleveland 1862 and 1863;; Columbus 1864 and 1865; Dayton, 1866 and 1867; Toledo, 1868 and 1869; Springfield, 1870 and 1871; Mansfield, 1872 and 1873.

From 1874 until 1866, the Fair was held on the grounds of the Franklin County Agricultural Society in what is now known as Franklin Park.  It became permanently established in 1886 on the present grounds at Columbus, Ohio, at which time the original tract contained 115 acres which has since been increased to approximately 370 acres.

One of the outstanding influences in the dynamic development of the present Ohio State Fair is a gigantic Junior Fair with its broad program for the youth of Ohio.  (The first agricultural exhibit for young people was held at Ashley, in Delaware County, in 1924).  The youth organization departments which include 4-H Clubs, Future Farmers of America, Home Economics and Future Homemakers of America, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of U.S.A., Camp Fire Girls, Vocational Trade and Industrial Arts, Farm Bureau Youth Councils, Junior and Youth Grangers, Junior Achievement and Youth Gardens, Junior Science Exhibits, Business and Office Education and Manpower Training, now provide opportunities for members of the various organizations to exhibit and participate with other youth on a statewide level.

The State Board of Agriculture, composed of twelve members, six Democrats and six Republicans, continued to have jurisdiction over the State Fair, acting in an advisory capacity to the State Fair Manager, who was responsible to the Director of Agriculture until 1961 when legislation was passed creating a new governing body.  The Fair is now under the jurisdiction of this new group known as the Ohio Expositions Commission.

This Commission is composed of eleven members, nine of whom are appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and the Director of Agriculture and Director of Development serve as ex-officio members.  Of the eleven members not more than five may be from one political party.  Expiration of terms of appointment is staggered so there will be some continuity to the
Commission at all times.  The Commission is specifically charged with the responsibility of conducting at least one fair annually and maintaining and managing property held by the State for the purpose of conducting fairs and exhibits.

Broadening of programs, free entertainment, the construction of new north-south interstate super highway, making easy access to the grounds for people from all directions, plus a capital improvement program including rehabilitation of the Coliseum, the new Lausche Youth Exhibits Building, new Cooper Livestock Judging Arena, rehabilitation of the Dairy Cattle Barn, new Highway Exhibits Building, new Cox Fine Arts Center, new Multi-purpose Building, three new TV Buildings, a new Electric Exhibits Building, rehabilitation of the Grandstand, several new restrooms, blacktopping of all streets and roadways, mercury vapor lighting throughout the grounds, the new Sky Glidder, which provides (North-South) overhead transportation, has helped the Ohio State Fair grow into the second largest Fair in the nation.

Attendance at the Ohio State Fair now numbers 2,053,971.  Its great exhibits of livestock, poultry and horticulture; its magnificent works of art and needlecraft; machinery and industrial displays; adult and youth exhibits; its thrilling and exciting midway, Horse Pulling and Tractor Pulling Contests, all speak favorably for the great industrial and agricultural development in the state since the time of the first State Fair.

Jerry L Kaltenbach

General Manager




Sharpen Your Shepherding Skills with Bred Ewe Lambs!


  • Ewe lambs need to be 70% of their mature body weight prior to breeding.
  • Ewe lambs have a shorter breeding season than older ewes. Ewe lambs born earlier in the year cycle earlier due to their larger body weight and maturity.
  • Select feed rations correctly! Pregnant ewe lambs are still growing and have higher nutritional requirements than older ewes. During early and mid-pregnancy ewe lambs, need 17-20% more quality feed than older ewes?
  • Make sure the ewe lambs are at their optimum body condition score 3-6 weeks before lambing.
  • Do not overfeed before lambing. Ewe lambs require a balanced diet for maintenance and pregnancy not growth. Over feeding will create large single lambs with possible lambing difficulties.
  • Avoid multiple births – do not over feed up to and during mating.
  • You should pregnancy check at eight weeks after breeding to identify ewes carrying multiple births and to identify open ewes.
  • Group separately ewes with multiple lambs.
  • General pregnancy results for young ewes: single 69%, twins 19%, & triplets .5%.
  • Lambing will greatly affect the body condition (one=thin five=Fat) and future performance plus growth rate of the ewe lamb.
  • Ewes lambing later and then weaning later may require additional body condition recovery time.
  • Continue to manage young ewes after weaning to ensure timely breeding results in the following breeding season.


Be cautious of your decision to breed ewe lambs if your flock has a history lambing difficulties with assisted births and cesarean sections.

Carcass Results from Breed Champion Lambs at 2019 Ohio State Fair

This video shows the carcass data from the eighteen breed champion and reserve champion lambs exhibited in the junior market lamb show at the 2019 Ohio State Fair.

Thank you to the Ohio State University Meat Lab and Dr Steve Moeller for harvesting and ranking the carcasses.  Data from the Open and the Junior Division Champions & Reserve  Champions is listed for information only.

Wool Breed Judges Resources

These presentations are from the 2019 Wool Judge Workshop held at Ohio State University Extension Marion County on March 9, 2019.

The program is designed to provide resources to individuals who judge wool breeds of sheep in shows throughout the county.

  1. “The wool fiber and its applications” produced by Dr Geoff Naylor and the Australian Wool Textile Training Center
  2. “Why Raise Wool Breed Sheep” presented by Dave Cook, sheep producer, show judge, and sheep educator.
    1. 02.1-The-Wool-Fibre-and-its-Applications-Presentation-1754zli

Water and Animals

When the ambient outdoor temperature is below freezing during winter or scorching hot in summer, we must acknowledge and remember that water is necessary for livestock production. More importantly, it’s necessary for life. This may seem like common sense to you, and I hope it does, because it suggests that you recognize its importance. Without water we have no livestock production. Without water we have no life. It’s as simple and complex as that. After all, water is mandatory for the maintenance and regulation of body temperature (throw it back to BIO101 and think “homeostasis”). It’s an immensely important factor in growth, development, and lactation. And it’s imperative for digestive processes, reproduction, excretion, and metabolizing forages and feedstuffs, among many other biological processes.

Water is critical to so many different processes in the body that it’s even essential to eyesight. Let that sink in. It’s something we probably tend to not think about, but it’s true. I won’t delve into the multifaceted specifics of all of the biological processes that require water because they are many and I’d be writing a novel. However, we are responsible, nevertheless, for supplying water to our livestock that is sufficient and clean to set the stage for increased performance, which, in turn, results in increased production.

This leads us to the topic of water requirements, which are affected by a myriad of circumstances. The age, size, and species of animal, level of activity, dry matter/feed intake, ambient temperature, and water temperature are some of those factors. Gestation is another factor, one at the forefront and of great importance in a production setting. Although all water consumed by livestock doesn’t have to and won’t be provided in the form of drinking water, water still needs to be provided ad libitum, meaning “as desired.” Sure, water can be consumed by livestock via forages or feedstuffs that contain a lot of moisture (things like pasture, silage, etc.), but those sources of nutrition only satisfy a portion of animal water requirements. The rest of that requirement comes from intake by way of ad libitum access to water. In other words, animals voluntarily drinking water that they have free access to in order to satisfy their needs.

Here’s a general idea of just how much water some classes of livestock consume on a per day basis, but keep in mind that these values may vary:

  • Dry and bred cows: 6-15 gallons
  • Nursing cows: 11-18 gallons
  • Bulls: 7-19 gallons
  • Growing cattle: 4-15 gallons
  • Dairy cattle: 15-30 gallons
  • Sheep and goats: 2-3 gallons
  • Horses: 10-15 gallons

In addition to water requirements, it’s also imperative that we recognize the importance of water quality to livestock production. In simple terms, poor water quality (i.e. water containing debris, bacterial contamination, etc.) may lead to a reduction in water and feed consumption, which negatively affects animal health and culminates in a loss of production. It’s a domino effect.

Often times we’re able to detect poor water quality upon visual examination and/or sense of smell, but this is not always the case. Therefore, it’s a good practice for us as producers to have our water tested. For example, water that is murky in appearance and/or foul smelling could be a sign of contamination, but in order to pinpoint the potential contaminate(s), it needs to be investigated. Water in a farm pond that has a green film on top may be indicative of an algal bloom. Although not all algal blooms are toxic, it’s recommended that these water sources be avoided until sample analyses have been obtained.

Regarding livestock watering sources, we’ve historically used streams, ponds, and springs to provide water for our animals. While they may still be in use, well-pumped and gravity-fed systems are becoming more common. Ultimately, the type of system that works best for you will depend on your specific needs and situation. For those of us who must use streams, ponds, and springs, it’s ideal to provide animals points of access (versus access to the watering source in its entirety) for drinking purposes so that we not only minimize the potential for soil erosion and sedimentation, but also reduce the risk of contamination and threat to water quality. It’s a term we like to call “controlled direct access,” and it usually involves fencing and the construction of ramps to achieve limited access. While some major advantages of using these sources for providing water to livestock are reliability, low cost, and the fact that they aren’t dependent on power, they do come with their disadvantages — they require maintenance, may dry up during drought, and are still at risk of contamination due to accessibility by livestock. Well-pumped and gravity-fed watering systems are generally viewed as better alternatives to sources in which livestock have direct access because they employ complete exclusion of animals, thereby reducing the threat to water quality.

Overall, water that is clean and of good quality will lead to an increase in water and feed consumption, which positively affects animal health and results in an increase in livestock performance and production. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, so long as we’re keenly aware of water’s place in livestock production. And if you need another reminder, it’s always at the top of the list of importance.


Callie Burnett is a farm girl, animal scientist, and biologist whose heritage is deeply rooted in agriculture. She is an alumna of Clemson University with a Master of Science in Animal & Veterinary Sciences.  

Adding Distillers Grain and Soy Hulls to Sheep Diets

Adding Distillers Grain and Soy Hulls to Sheep Diets

August 14 2018

Jeff Held, SDSU Sheep Extension Specialists
(Previously published as an Extension Extra: South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service)

Feeding Soy Hulls and Dried Distillers Grain with Solubles to Sheep

Co-products from corn and soybean processing industries can be excellent sources of nutrients for livestock. With the growth of ethanol production from corn and increasing number of soybeans processed in the Upper Midwest, livestock producers have many nutrient-dense co-product feed resources readily available. In the Upper Midwest distillers dried grain with solubles (DDGS) derived from ethanol production and soybean hulls (SH) from soybean processing have created the greatest interest to sheep producers.

Interestingly these co-products are both high fiber-low starch in content, much like forages. Yet DDGS is classified as a protein feed and SH could be classified as an energy feedstuff.

As often found with co-product feed ingredients, these have unique nutrient profiles and physical characteristics that require attention when formulating diets. They often can serve multiple roles in diet formulation: energy, protein, or forage. Many producers are simply unfamiliar with the effect of DDGS or SH on diet palatability, level of performance, cost effectiveness, and health status.

For sheep producers the key attractions of these feeds are cost effectiveness, animal performance, and reduced labor.

The key physical characteristic that offers diet formulation flexibility is the high fiber and low starch content. Both DDGS and SH are energy-dense feeds that can safely replace a portion of traditional forage or grain in diets, since the high fiber-low starch physical characteristics have lower rumen acidosis potential compared to grain-based diets.

Cost per pound of nutrient will influence their inclusion into sheep diets. Economically, DDGS is currently best suited to serve as a protein feed since it competes most favorably with traditional protein feeds like soybean meal. Pelleted SH can be an economical source of forage or serve as an energy feedstuff substituting for corn or barley. For nutrient content, see Table 1.

Using soybean hulls in sheep diets
Using pelleted SH for mature breeding ewes as a forage source has increased dramatically across the Upper Midwest during the past 5 years, especially in drought stricken areas.

Recommendations for SH use in ewe diets have been based on research at the SDSU sheep research unit where non-pregnant mature ewes were fed slightly above maintenance requirement by offering 4 lb of pelleted soybean hulls and 1 lb of long-stemmed alfalfa hay daily. Ewes were fed this diet for 60 days with no ill health, and ewe body weight change was a positive 0.1 lb per day. (In beef and dairy cattle studies, recommendations are to limit soybean hulls to 40% of dry matter intake due to concern for bloat.)

Studies with growing lambs fed SH based diets have reported excellent growth performance and palatability. Soy hulls stimulate intake; studies demonstrate that intake increases linearly with higher levels of soy hulls.

Although SH is a high fiber feedstuff, the rate and extent of fermentation in the rumen is rapid, leading to increased rate of passage; it is these features that contribute to increased feed intake. Growing lambs fed a diet containing 70% SH had a reported dry matter intake equivalent to 4.5% of animal body weight. Compared to more traditional corn based diets, lamb dry matter intake of SH is often increased by 0.5 to 1.0% of animal body weight.

Using DDGS in sheep diets
Ewe lactation studies using DDGS compared to soybean meal as a protein supplement show no difference in ewe body condition score or suckling lamb gain. A lactation study using DDGS to replace 2/3 of the grain (corn), equating to 25% of the diet, improved triplet- reared lamb growth performance by 12%. There was no difference in single and twin reared lambs.

Studies using DDGS in lamb growing-finishing diets are scarce. This lack of DDGS research could be related to current general lamb feeding practices: Lamb rations are generally offered ad-lib in self-feeders with maximum expected gain. Pelleted lamb protein supplements containing protein, minerals, vitamins, and feed additives are commonly used to reduce feed ingredient sorting and refusal.

However, the high cost of commercially manufactured lamb protein supplements has created producer interest in inclusion of DDGS and other co-products in lamb diets. Since the level of crude protein in DDGS is approximately 40% lower than in soybean meal (30 vs. 48% CP), the cost per unit of crude protein will need to favor DDGS to substitute for soybean meal in mixed lamb diets.

Even when the economics favor DDGS the high inclusion rate adds considerably more phosphorus to the diet, creating greater diet formulation challenges.

Editors Note: Please note that the values found in Table 2 are reflective of ingredient pricing when the article was first published in 2006.