|Smokey's fur looked a bit moth-eaten when I visited him in 2008 at the Fair|
The beloved fire prevention bear has greeted fairgoers since 1959. He's been a fixture over in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources area for years.
Here's the link to Smokey's page on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.
Apparently Smokey is now in pretty poor condition, and the plan is to replace him with a new $80,250 "animatronic" version. (The plan is temporarily on hold, but it sounds like it will eventually happen. You can read about it here on the Columbus Dispatch website.)
I don't go to the State Fair every year, but when we do go, a stop to see Smokey to grab a photo is a must. I don't have a problem with a brand new high-tech version of him, as long as it's the classic Smokey – and not the unsettlingly realistic version that was seen in commercials a few years ago (that I complained about here).
****Speaking of the classic, lovable Smokey Bear, I was reminded that Sandy of Sheffield Lake sent me this keen Smokey Bear comic book a couple years ago. (Sandy said that she picked it up at a ranger station at either Cook Forest State Park or Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania.)
It tells the true story of how a badly burned bear cub – rescued in the aftermath of a forest fire in New Mexico in 1950 – became the Smokey Bear who lived at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. for years. (The Forest Service probably gave up the idea when it became apparent that it wasn't a good idea to have a Smokey Bear who would eventually die.)
Anyway, here's the back cover of the comic book (below). It's a reproduction of a classic Smokey poster – and one of my favorites, with plenty of cute critters.
Feel like doing some light reading? You can read an online PDF of the comic book right here!