Best bets for things to see and do in Columbus in August

From the Ohio State Fair and Pelotonia to concerts and festivals, there’s no shortage of entertainment over the next few weeks in Central Ohio.

Throwback Spotlight: Ohio State Fair, July 27-August 27. seven

Ohio Exposition Center and State Fair

It’s okay, admit it: in the past two years, you’ve missed the cash cow at the Ohio State Fair. With no state fair in 2020 and a much scaled-down version that only featured herding competitions in 2021, this wonderfully excessive icon of the dairy industry has been absent from the fair for the past few years.

This year, organizers promise the return of the butter cow and more. “You can expect the full Ohio State Fair this summer,” spokeswoman Alicia Shoults said. “It will be a great opportunity to rediscover some of those favorite traditions: the butter cow or the smoked bear greeting you by name, fried food on sticks, three scenes of entertainment, indoor activities, outdoor activities [and] all livestock shows.

Not that the event is just a nostalgia fest. New to this year is a space called the Dog House (located where the Showplace pavilion once stood). “He’s going to feature the Marvelous Mutts dog show,” says Shoults, which will include agility tests, Frisbee tricks and dock diving. Canine trainers will be on hand to offer visitors advice on the behavior of their own pooches. Also new is an eight-station activity center called Little Farmers. Youngsters can interact with pretend animals, including a fiberglass cow, and pretend flowers.

Of course, for some show attendees, it’s all about the music. Organizers have pulled out all the stops this year, with artists such as Nelly, featuring special guest Breland (July 30), Ice Cube (August 4) and the legend himself, Willie Nelson (August 5). “We try to get a lot of different types of music [and] gender diversity,” says Shoults. “There’s something for every type of music lover.”

Better still, after two years of pandemic-related cancellations and delays, organizers expect the only thing holding back attendance numbers, which typically hover between 800,000 and 900,000, will be the weather. “If it’s a nice, sunny fair, we’ll have a lot of people,” Shoults says, “and if it’s raining, we see our attendance drop.” $8-$10 door admission, concerts and other activities extra, —Peter Tonguette

Willie Nelson, August 5

Ohio Expo Center and State Fair

At 89, the country music legend and Texas native is back on the road, performing at the Ohio State Fair. Hoping for some Red Headed Stranger tunes.

Dublin Irish Festival, August 5-7

Coffman Park

Always one of the most melodious offerings of the summer, the festival will feature many national artists, including Celtic band Gaelic Storm and Scottish pipe and drum band the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, as well as bands local dance bands and bagpipes converging on Coffman Park. $10 to $35,

Pelotonia, August 5-7

Central Ohio

The beloved cycling event will return to its traditional format, including in-person rides, a Grand Opening Ceremony and overnight stays at Kenyon College for those taking longer

Thrity Umrigar, August 6

Thurber House

Thurber House’s Summer Literary Picnic series welcomes this best-selling author for a discussion about her latest novel, ‘Honor’. Attendees can ask questions, buy books, and have them signed at the

Tom Fennessy/Mike Harden Back-to-School Project, August 6 and 13

NSG/Pilkington North America

This non-profit organization, named after two deceasedColumbus Expedition writers, is looking for volunteers to help fill more than 11,000 backpacks with donated school

ProMusica Chamber Orchestra SummerFest, August 9, 11-12

Alum Creek Amphitheater, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

ProMusica is spreading the richness of classical music this year: the ensemble will present its annual outdoor concert festival, SummerFest, at two locations over four days: the Alum Creek Amphitheater in Westerville on Tuesday and the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on Thursday and Friday. . Free,

All Ohio Balloon Fest, August 11-13

Union County Airport

Hot air balloons shaped like Darth Vader and Jedi master Yoda are just the most visually dynamic element of the annual festival at Union County Airport in Marysville, which this year will also host Bret Michaels on Thursday and Niko Moon on Friday. $20.99 to $219.99,

Armando Román, August 12-Sept. 2

Gallery Roy G Biv

Franklinton’s Roy G Biv Gallery has selected Armando Román for its first ROY residency, which showcases emerging non-white artists. The two-month residency ends with a multimedia exhibition that opens on August

Symphony Gala, August 13

Quantum Health

The annual fundraiser for the Columbus Symphony, held this year at Quantum Health’s Dublin headquarters, will honor Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker and his wife,

Latin Festival, August 13-14

Genoa Park

From music to art to food, Latin American culture in all its diversity will be celebrated for an entire weekend at Genoa Park. Details on this year’s festival were not available at press time. Free,

David Baker with Maggie Smith, August 16

Gramercy Books

In the title poem of “Whale Fall,” Granville poet David Baker tracks the carcass of a whale to the bottom of the ocean. Poet Maggie Smith joins Baker in a conversation at Gramercy Books.

Kendrick Lamar, August 16

Schottenstein Center

The Pulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop prodigy embarks on The Big Steppers tour with more introspective compositions layered with sleek R&B.

“King Hedley II” by August Wilson, August 18-Sept. 4

Schiller Park

The Actors’ Theater of Columbus will close its season at Schiller Park with one of the lesser-known plays from Wilson’s masterful Pittsburgh

Columbus Food Truck Festival, August 19-21

Franklin County Fairgrounds

More than 50 gourmet food trucks will be represented at the 11th edition of the festival, which will be held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hilliard. As you sample varied truck food, head to the main stage for musical styles from Willie Phoenix on Friday, Angela Perley on Saturday, and The Winnie Cooper Project on Sunday. An acoustic stage welcomes many other artists. $5 to $10,

CBUS Soul Fest, August 20

Bicentennial Park

Head to Bicentennial Park from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to celebrate the city’s Black culture, music, history and more during this new collaboration between Experience Columbus and the Recreation and Parks Department of the

Leon Bridges, August 21

Kemba live

The soul singer, whose latest album, Gold-Diggers Sound, was Grammy-nominated for Best R&B Album, will perform with Swedish electronic music group Little Dragon at Kemba Live. $59 and up,

Rackets for the OMRM, August 25

Country Club at Muirfield Village

The Ronald McDonald Houses of Central Ohio will host a ‘play and party’ fundraiser at the Country Club at the Muirfield Village Tennis and Pickleball Court, featuring music, drinks, appetizers and more

Breakaway Music Festival, August 26-28

Historic Crew Stadium

Several musical genres will be represented in this year’s edition of the festival at the Historic Crew Stadium. Bands featured include The Chainsmokers, Lane 8, Jauz Off the Deep End and Night Tales. Passes start at $109,

WonderBus Music and Arts Festival, August 26-28

The lawn at CAS

The headliners – Duran Duran on Friday, Lorde on Saturday and The Lumineers on Sunday – may be the talk of the town, but the festival on The Lawn at CAS is packed with other acts, as well as arts and food. $49 to $239,

Columbus Fiery Foods Festival, August 27-28

Main Street Bridge, Downtown Columbus

Spice up your life at the festival on the Main Street Bridge where restaurants showcase their hottest offerings (literally) and vendors offer everything from hot sauces to salsas. The festival also includes contests and performances, but beginners may want to bring bottled water. $5 to $10,

Interpol/Spoon, August 30

Kemba live

With the help of Australian trio The Goon Sax, indie-rock heavyweights Interpol and Spoon will take the stage at Kemba Live to showcase their jam-packed

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