Presidential hopeful Gov. Kasich kicks off opening of Ohio State Fair

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — It's one of the biggest fairs in the country: the Ohio State Fair.

And Gov. John Kasich kicked off the event as he ramps up his race to the White House.

Our Gabe Spiegel is the only local TV reporter to talk with him at the event, and asked if he thought he had an edge at the GOP debate that will be held in Cleveland next week.

"Honestly, I believe the work we're doing on the ground in the states is the most important work we can do," Kasich said. "(The debates) are important, but most important is what you do on the ground."

At the event, Kasich told the crowd his favorite memory of the fair is winning against wife as they raced on the giant slide.

The Republican governor and presidential hopeful will tour the grounds after opening the fair Wednesday morning in Columbus.

Kasich  and other fairgoers will see several changes at the fair this year.

The state has canceled all poultry shows as part of an effort to protect Ohio's $2.3 billion poultry industry from a deadly bird flu virus.

State fair officials also announced earlier this month that vendors won't be permitted to sell Confederate flag merchandise at the event.

Fairgoers will be welcomed by a new animatronic Smokey Bear with arms and a head and mouth that moves. The fire prevention icon has greeted visitors by name since 1959.

The fair runs through Aug 9.

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