Preview: Ohio State Fair best bets

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From the July 26, 2012 edition

We shuffled through the labyrinthine Ohio State Fair schedule and picked several things that piqued our curiosity. Spinning Barf Wheel of Science? We’re there!

The Band Perry

7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2 at Celeste Center

The Band Perry stands tall among the wave of artists approaching country music with pop-star charisma and theater-kid pizzazz (see also: Taylor Swift, Sugarland). It’s the sort of music that dominates the charts and award ceremonies without pandering to the lowest common denominator. —Chris DeVille

The-Dream & Miguel

7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3 at Celeste Center

Two of R&B’s most artful voices combine for an intriguing double bill. The-Dream, a.k.a. Terius Nash, penned hits like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and is responsible for the most adventurous backlog of bedroom funk since Prince’s heyday. And while Miguel isn’t a lyrical wizard (“You can be the cash/ I’ll be the rubber band”), he’s a master of breezy, subtly unconventional urban hits. —Chris DeVille

Jason Aldean

7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5 at Crew Stadium

People love Jason Aldean with a passion usually reserved for religious icons and sports teams. Dude sold out every show on this year’s My Kinda Party Tour, including this, his stadium debut. He represents a new wave of country fans, the kind that defiantly tout their residence in flyover states while still welcoming duets with Ludacris. —Chris DeVille

Pig races

I’ve always been an avid horse-racing fan, so my favorite attraction at the fair is the pig races. No, these little oinkers don’t have the majesty of thoroughbreds, but they’re a hell of a lot of fun. With four races during the week and five on the weekends, you have to catch at least one. And no, gambling is not permitted. —Jesse Tigges

Chocolate Farm

Indeed, my friends. Hit the DiSalle Center to see how artists sculpted 500 pounds of American-made chocolate into a sprawling scene of a farming community. Temptation to play with your food — or find the nearest chocolate indulgence — inevitably will follow. —Jackie Mantey

Red Cup Showdown

11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, July 27, Rhodes Center, East Auditorium

Jeff Mauro, winner of the seventh season of “Food Network Star” and host of “Sandwich King” on the network, is the star power at this coffee-beverage showdown for aspiring baristas. Contestants will be under the time gun to deliver a coffee drink that will impress the judges. —Kristen Schmidt

Great Lakes Timber Lumberjack Show

With axe-wielding lumberjacks conquering feats of log rolling, woodcarving and chopping, just watching this hour-long show will put hair on your chest. The flannel festivity takes the stage three times a day (usually 12, 2 and 6 p.m.) at the Natural Resources Amphitheater. —Jackie Mantey

Ohio State Fair Food Finder app

Use this free mobile app to match your raging hunger for [insert fair food here] with the vendor serving it. Type in the food, choose a vendor serving it and find the vendor on the map. Then make a beeline for whatever you’re craving, even if it’s buffalo jerky and pickled eggs. —Kristen Schmidt

OSU Phun with Physics

Bring the Spinning Barf Wheel of Science, bring the party. Phun guys from the physics department at OSU run this exhibit for kids (of all ages, right?) that also includes liquid nitrogen experiments, a levitating superconductor and the collision of Diet Coke and Mentos. —Kristen Schmidt

Celebrate Local booths

Shop for Ohio-made food, crafts and body products at this new series of booths by the Heritage Handmade Crafts Building. Presented by the store Celebrate Local, Ohio Proud and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, expect nothing but the Buckeye State’s best. —Jackie Mantey