The Ohio National - A Living Poultry Catalog

The Ohio National billed as America's largest annual poultry show, is held each November in Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. If you live nearby or you're in the mood for a road trip, this is well worth a visit. The show is a sight to behold!

This year it will be held November 9 - 10 in the Voinovich Building and boasts close to 8400 entries. The poultry sales area will now be held in the O'Neil Building which is bigger and has a cement floor.

Diary of a Visit to The Ohio National 

As a disclaimer, the following is from my first visit to The Ohio National. I have been many times since and find it fascinating each time...

As we pulled into the parking lot of the Voinovich Building on the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus, it was evident things were underway. People were wandering the lot with turkeys and chickens tucked under their arms. Some were haggling as birds were being sold right out of the backs of cars. I immediately knew this would be quite an experience, and I wasn’t wrong.

I have to admit, the first thing you notice inside is the smell and the haze of dust. It’s not that anything was unclean; it’s just that thousands of animals are occupying the same place all with bedding and lots of poop.

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Once you get a sense of place, the usual poultry show sights are everywhere, but at The Ohio National, it’s all on a large scale. Hundreds of shiny trophies line tables, judges are meticulously sizing up birds in closed aisles, kids are anxiously working with judges and participants are eagerly prepping their birds and taking glamour shots.

The Ohio National is like a hatchery catalog on steroids. If you’re wondering what breed of bird to choose, they are all there in real-time. It’s funny to walk with a catalog and compare the pictures to real life. 

There are also exotic species you don’t find in your standard catalogs. I was taken by the varieties of fancy pigeons some with curly feathers on their backs, others with feathered feet, some with almost no beak and others that stand tall like game birds. 

The call ducks were terribly cute and with so many color choices, I don’t know how you’d pick. Bantam chickens, which are often considered the Easter eggs of the chicken world, were out in force. It was cage after cage of bantams each more beautiful than the next. In an adjoining building, African Geese wowed us with their antics and honking. And meat ducks, which I had never seen before, were aplenty.
Call Duck
African Goose
On the market side, there was a swap meet area where people were selling their birds. While my kids wanted one of everything, I constantly thwarted their requests. I know people that come to the Ohio National each year to find interesting breeds for their backyard flock. There are some great finds here, just be sure to quarantine your new birds before adding them to your existing flock. 

Overall, if you’re in the area, I’d say The Ohio National is worth a visit. For me, I was used to the friendly confines of 4-H and FFA at local fairs. This was different; this was a serious business for the competitors. And, frankly, the sheer size of this event and splendor of the birds is something to behold.

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