The Metro-owned-and-operated Tennessee State Fairgrounds is likely to undergo a name-change, a move the facility’s director hopes will better reflect its full scope of operations.
Its new name under a proposal that will go before the Metro fair board: “The Nashville Expo Center, home of the Tennessee State Fair.”
“I’m trying to get everybody away from calling it the Tennessee State Fairgrounds,” said Buck Dozier, executive director of the fairgrounds. “It hasn’t been in 30 years the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
“It’s the Nashville Expo Center, home of the Tennessee State Fair,” he added. “If people don’t understand that concept, they have missed what goes on out there.”
The change is aimed at encompassing the flea markets and other events that take place over the course of the entire year inside the facility’s expo center buildings. The annual state fair occurs during just two weeks in September.
“People confuse the event with the grounds,” Dozier said.
Dozier, who discussed the issue with The City Paper at Monday’s fairgrounds master plan open house, said his staff is already using stationary that dons the new name. The facility’s website has been reformatted to highlight the expo center.
Dozier, who has manned his current position since 2008, said he would introduce a name-change proposal to the five-member fair board, likely in October.
“The general public still thinks of it as the fairgrounds,” fair board chair Ned Horton said. He called the proposed name a “re-branding” of the site. “There’s a lot of input being gathered at the moment,” Horton said.
The move would come after Gov. Bill Haslam in May signed into law a bill that allows the state agriculture commissioner to appoint a state fair advisory commission to oversee the annual state fair.
The city has overseen the state fair for the event’s entire 106 years, but the state’s action has raised some uncertainty over Metro’s future role with the event — and whether it would remain at the fairgrounds.
For now, a group of state tourism and agriculture leaders called the Tennessee State Fair Association insists it plans to keep the event at Nashville’s fairgrounds property.
Asked whether the new state law spurred the change, Dozier said it didn’t. “That didn’t have anything to do with it,” he said. “I’ve been wanting [this name change] since I came here four years ago.”