Get The State Fair Fever

Have you ever wondered what is the best of Tennessee? I know we have the music, the Smoky Mountains, Walking Horses, lots of great football, fall festivals, and sweet tea. There are a lot of things to choose from, but one of the best things coming up right now is our Tennessee State Fair. I know there has been much talk the last several months about the Tennessee State Fair and who is going to make it happen, but let me reassure you that the fair has been revived by the Tennessee State Fair Association (a non-profit organization) and has made plans for the Fair to be much as it has been in years gone by. In fact, it is going to be better than ever. The Tennessee State Fair is 105 years old and this year with the theme “Tradition Lives On,” it will be a tradition you will want to be a part of.

The Tennessee State Fair is being run by a public/private partnership made up of organizations and individuals with the purpose of maintaining a state fair that can be around for other generations to enjoy. This partnership is dedicated to preserving and sharing with generations to come the longstanding and meaningful purposes of the traditional agricultural fair. This year’s fair will showcase the best of Tennessee, emphasizing agriculture and youth, heritage and future, all in an educational and entertaining atmosphere.  

I know it has been a long hot summer, but as nighttime temperatures attempt to fall somewhat and country crickets start to sing a different tune, I begin to get the urge to go to a fair and sample some cotton candy. The sounds of fairs are also unforgettable and a part of the tradition. To hear the call of the midway barker looking for his next victim is something that will be engraved in your memory. You will also have the sound of the bell ringing from the sledgehammer hitting its target at the strongman game. With each swing, by the boyfriend trying to impress his girlfriend, the bell provides an ever-continuing background noise to the happy music of the merry-go-round as young and old alike ride to its continuous up and down beat.

Fairs for years have been the showplaces for the latest in new farm technology. Kids have enjoyed climbing on new tractors and pretending they were tilling the fields for next year’s crops. I can remember climbing into the driver’s seat of a brand new John Deere and wishing to someday drive one of those machines across our fields, rather than the “red belly” Ford we would have to keep for several more seasons.

At this year’s fair you will see the customary livestock and creative arts competitions, but there will also be nightly must-see shows such as the Banana Derby monkey races, the Great Lakes Timber Show, and the Kenyan Safari Acrobats. There are even new contests such as Tennessee’s Got Talent, a talent-search competition open to all Tennessee residents, and the Tennessee State Fair Corn Hole Championship will also be at this year’s Fair.

Also in the racetrack grandstands you can watch a demolition derby and stock car races on opening weekend. Race tickets will be sold separately. Fair-goers can expect nightly music, thrill rides, kid attractions, educational exhibits and many other entertaining activities all 10 days of the Fair.

Make your plans to go to the State Fair this year September 9-18 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds on Wedgewood Avenue in Nashville and see technology combined with nostalgia. Some things are hard to do away with and being one who has been a fair “goer” since I could walk and a traditional type person, I like the theme this year of “Tradition Lives On.”

If you have missed the tradition of “fair fever”, I would suggest you catch it real soon. Try to make plans to be at a fair this year. You know the little kid in you wants to go and you need to keep the tradition alive.

 -30-

– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com