By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich was sitting near the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ fishing pond Wednesday, watching as his wife failed to haul in a blue gill, when a thought struck him.
Wouldn’t it be great, he pondered aloud, if there were more trees planted at the Ohio State Fairgrounds?
Something comparable, he said, to the atmosphere at Kennywood Park, a historic amusement park in suburban Pittsburgh, just down river from Kasich’s hometown.
“I’m serious,” the governor said, calling attention to reporters following him around on the first day of the Ohio State Fair. “We’re going to find out how we do it, and we’re going to try to get trees planted across the entire fairgrounds — like nothing anybody’s ever seen before.”
Kasich offered the idea while touring the grounds on the first day of this year’s state fair, a 12-day event that will draw 800,000-plus people to the state’s capital city, weather permitting. The cost to attend is $10 for adults and $8 for youngsters and seniors, with special discounts on tickets offered each day. Additional details about the fair are available online at www.ohiostatefair.com.
Kasich, first lady, Karen, and twin daughters Emma and Reese, were on hand Wednesday morning to cut the ceremonial ribbon.
“It’s the best fair in the country, there’s no doubt about it,” he said, adding later, “We want everybody across Ohio, all the families, to come and enjoy themselves.”
Also Wednesday, Kasich had a conversation with Smokey Bear and offered a few words of encouragement to the teen members of the All-Ohio State Fair Band. He asked ODNR representatives about the habits of songbirds and the lives of bald eagles. He ate corn on the cob, viewed the butter cow and bought a state parks T-shirt.
The governor also spent a couple of bucks on one fairway game, trying (and missing) the lone basketball shot he attempted. He and daughter Reese rode the carousel, and Kasich was first in a race down the Giant Slide, a mainstay ride on the Midway.
And he began the push for more trees.
“This would be good for all of the events they have at the fairgrounds,” Kasich said.
“We’ll launch a major program, ask the nursery men and women to donate big trees. Let’s get shade onto the fairgrounds. It’d be fantastic.”