What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words "Ohio State Fair?" The famous butter cow? Sweltering heat and massive crowds? Deep-fried Oreos? Yes, you can find all of those things at the fair, but you may be surprised (and intrigued) by these additional offerings.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words "Ohio State Fair?" The famous butter cow? Sweltering heat and massive crowds? Deep-fried Oreos? Yes, you can find all of those things at the fair, but you may be surprised (and intrigued) by these additional offerings.

Fine Arts at the Fair

Wednesday, July 29 – Sunday, August 9, Cox Fine Arts Center

Every year, the Cox Fine Arts Center showcases original work from professional and amateur artists at the Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, and fair attendees get to vote for their favorite piece through the "People's Choice Award" competition. This year, more than 300 pieces of art have been accepted into the exhibition, along with live music performances and short film screenings.

New fair foods

Plan out your pre-fair meals wisely, because some of the new delicacies making their Ohio State Fair debuts this year include: deep-fried cake balls and a mouthwatering donut ice cream sandwich (a giant chocolate brownie donut, filled with frozen custard, dipped in chocolate) from The Gobblin' Gourmet; a bacon guacamole dog from Tracey Concessions; and elephant ear ice cream, which is exactly what it sounds like - traditional vanilla Velvet Ice Cream swirled with caramel sauce and nuggets of fried cinnamon-coated elephant ear treats - from Taste of Ohio Cafe“.

Old Familiar Beard Bash Competition

2:30 p.m. Monday, August 3, ShowPlace Pavilion

It doesn't get much more hipster than this, as Midwestern men gather for the second year in a row to show off their most impressively grown beards. Competition categories include mustaches, partial beards, full beards and even fake facial hair. Oh, and there's also a moustache-inspired art gallery and live performances by unshaven entertainers.

Ohio's Best Tattoo Competition

5 p.m. Monday, August 3, ShowPlace Pavilion

In this competition, skin is the main canvas. Find out which tattoo artists and enthusiasts will be named the best in the state. Les Paul's Big Sound Experience

10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Thursday, August 6 – Sunday, August 9, north of 17th Ave., in front of Rhodes Center

New this year is Les Paul's Big Sound Experience, an interactive mobile exhibit that invites guests to explore music, sound and technology innovations in a hands-on, entertaining space.

Photo credit: Adam Cairns/Dispatch file photo