Among the items Ohio Farm Bureau supported in the new state budget was $190 million for the Ohio Expo Center 2050 project. The state budget allocation approved in June will allow for buildings to be renovated and renewed, and infrastructure repaired and upgraded at its current location to make the Ohio State Fair and Expo Center the best in the country.
Ohio agriculture groups, led by Ohio Farm Bureau, were involved in this process for several years, culminating in February 2023 with recommendations on the State Fair and Expo Center that were shared with Gov. Mike DeWine’s 2050 Ohio Expo Task Force.
The ag groups’ vision and involvement is paying off now.
“The Ohio State Fair is one of the greatest opportunities we have to bridge the urban/rural divide and showcase our amazing industry and way of life to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans every year,” Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp said during his Ohio House and Ohio Senate Joint Ag Committee testimony this week. “Through the task force, many interested parties gave input on what the future of the fair should look like, and out of the final study, the vision for the Ohio Expo Center emerged.”
Sharp noted that the work done by the 2050 Task Force, including working with third-party master planning consultants, has lifted up the importance of investing and keeping the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair at its current location and investing in its future without removing its footprint in central Ohio. Supporting thousands of 4-H and FFA students, along with showcasing careers in agriculture, are just some of the many ways this investment helps secure the future success of the state’s No. 1 industry.
The recommendations were shared with the Ohio Expo 2050 Task Force to ensure that the input, ideas and concerns of the agriculture industry, including preserving the current location and footprint with a strong investment for improvements, were properly incorporated into the state’s new Vision Plan. The ag groups put forth their objectives in areas such as the mission and vision for the Expo Center; land use and optimization; the overall experience for youth and the public; and funding, governance and operations.
“This historic investment in the vision for this fair and the Ohio Expo Center will allow us to continue that great mission for generations to come,” Sharp said.