Sensory-Friendly Day at the Ohio State Fair

The Cardinal Gate Banner

Join us Thursday, July 25, 2024 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

We’ve turned down the lights and volume to make the Ohio State Fair more sensory-friendly in partnership with OCALI.

  • Ride the rides with no flashing lights or music.
  • Visit the Fair’s many educational and sensory activities in the morning with fewer crowds.
  • Take a break in Natural Resources Park or our soothing Quiet Room.
  • General Information

"The Ohio State Fair isn’t just about food and rides – it is about community. We want to make the Fair as enjoyable as possible for all Ohioans, and Sensory-Friendly Morning is one way we can achieve that goal."

Ohio State Fair General Manager Virgil Strickler

"At OCALI, we believe in a world where everyone deserves access to their community. These new features at the Fair help to create a common experience with unique considerations that allow greater access for all people."

OCALI Executive Director Shawn Henry

Inspiring Change Graphic

A Day at the Fair: The First Sensory-Friendly Morning at the Ohio State Fair

Spend some time at the first ever Sensory-Friendly Morning held July 31, 2019 and learn more about what happens when you lower the lights and sounds and take additional steps toward creating a sensory-friendly environment.

Listen to the Podcast

Support Your Visit

Parking Permit

Enjoy the Sensory-Friendly Morning by parking closer to the Fairgrounds. Participants of the Sensory-Friendly Morning will have the ability to park in a designated area within the perimeter of the Ohio State Fair. The Parking Permit with instructions to access the designated lot will be available for download prior to the start of the Ohio State Fair. Overflow parking will be redirected.

OCALI Quiet Room

If you need some quiet time or a break from exploring Fair activities during the Sensory-Friendly Morning, stop by the OCALI Quiet Room located in the Ohio Building near the Taste of Ohio Cafe. This quiet, air-conditioned space will offer a variety of low-tech and mid-tech solutions to support sensory needs, including fidgets, weighted lap pads and other sensory supports.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Park

Enjoy the shade and peaceful surrounding in the beautiful eight-acre park. Opened from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., this space offers a naturally quiet space with several sensory-friendly activities provided during the Sensory-Friendly Morning and each day of the Ohio State Fair.

Butterfly on some flowers

Social Narratives

Social narratives provide a story to describe a social situation supporting learners with socially appropriate responses and strategies to regulate their behaviors. We have prepared one to support a visit at the Ohio State Fair or learn more about Social Narrative strategies to create one.

First-Then Board

A simple visual schedule to support individuals moving from a less-desired activity to a more preferred one. The First-Then board can include words, pictures or icons. Learn more about First-Then Boards and download a blank template to use with your own words, photos, or icons.

Wait Card / Turn-Taking Support

Waiting is a very abstract concept for individuals on the autism spectrum. How long do I wait? Where do I wait? A wait card can provide a visual to support an individual while waiting in line for a ride, a game, food, or to pet the animals. Check out examples of Wait Cards to take to the Fair.

For more interventions to support all learners, including those with autism spectrum disorder, please visit the Autism Center Grab and Go Resource Gallery Interventions.

Slim banner of the parade

Making Fairs More Accessible

In January 2020, OCALI and the Ohio State Fair shared their experience with planning the first Sensory-Friendly Morning with fair staff across the state at the 95th Ohio Fair Managers Association Convention. Presenters also offered information about sensory processing and how to provide an environment that accommodates sensory differences, as well as discussed tools and resources, including a checklist of things to consider, to support hosting sensory-friendly events in communities across Ohio.

More about OCALI

OCALI is a recognized global leader in creating and connecting resources and relationships to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives. As a trusted source, OCALI enhances, develops and promotes world-class resources to effectively equip anyone who cares for, supports, educates, employs, or works with people with disabilities across the lifespan.

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*Photos courtesy of the Ohio State Fair.