"If you fry it, they will come" could be the motto of the Ohio State Fair. Because from manicotti to Coca-Cola, apparently there's nothing that can be battered, skewered and boiled in oil that fairgoers won't try (actually, battered, skewered and boiled in oil accurately describes the way I feel sometimes after leaving the baked, crowded midway, but that's another story).

"If you fry it, they will come" could be the motto of the Ohio State Fair. Because from manicotti to Coca-Cola, apparently there's nothing that can be battered, skewered and boiled in oil that fairgoers won't try (actually, battered, skewered and boiled in oil accurately describes the way I feel sometimes after leaving the baked, crowded midway, but that's another story).

Unfortunately, too often lost in all the celebrated gurgling grease is that this is the Ohio State Fair. In other words, there's large swaths of the fair's layout so fraught with generic carnie concessions, transient ride setups and unwinnably rigged games of "skill" that you could just as well be visiting any number of other unidentifiable roving carnivals anywhere in the country.

But in fact there are plenty of Ohio-proud attractions and comestibles at our fair, you just have to find them. And last Sunday I made a point to do just that. Many are located around the less-traveled north end of the fairgrounds, and checking them out will add a dose of much-needed local color to your time spent there. Here's some made-in-Ohio food highlights.

The Ohio Proud Tent. In here, you can taste and/or buy cheeses produced at Meadow Maid Dairy that are organic and made with only grass-fed cow's milk; also, Schoolhouse Jams of Cambridge has a ton of fudges and over 40 kinds of jams available from this one-woman, ex-teacher operation. Try her watermelon or cantaloupe jam - they're both made with produce from farmers markets.

Walker's Homemade Ice Cream from Gnaden Huetten (one of the earliest settlements in Ohio). This trailer stand, run by congregants of the oldest church in Ohio, has a John Deere engine hitched up and rigged to ice-filled wooden barrels where it churns out the made-before-your-eyes frozen treats

Marshall's concessions have several stands. One (The Pastry Mill) makes waffles with ground-in-front-of-you flour from whole wheat grown in Knox County. Another Marshall's stand sells shredded pork, bratwurst and homemade spicy Italian sausage using fresh pork from the Wagner Farm people of Marion.

Deep-fried Buckeye stand. It had to happen. For $4, four locally made Anthony-Thomas candies get dunked into an overused plastic bucket of batter and then plunked into a hot fat bath. Unfortunately, mine were pretty awful.

Speckled with black grainy residue and tasting of old, tired oil, the pale yellow breading led to an unappetizing mouthful of gooey molten milk chocolate and peanut butter. Maybe next year they should try hawking deep-fried wolverine on a stick instead. It couldn't be any worse.

For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog Under the Table at ColumbusDiningGuide.com