It’s time for cotton candy, goat judging and thrill ride insanity, as the Tennessee State Fair kicks off with a midway bang Friday.
About 250,000 paid attendees are expected.
The theme of this year’s event, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 20, is “My State Fair.”
“We thought about ‘Nothing but Swine in 2009,’ but that one didn’t make the cut,” Chrysty Fortner, TSF’s hard-working and engaging director or marketing said with a chuckle.
Fair officials will unveil this event (with assistance from Metro Beautification) the Greenway Energy Expo, which will feature the latest in renewable energy and technology. Students from Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech, UT-Knoxville, UT-Martin and Vanderbilt will show attendees advancements that will aid farmers and the planet.
Given the amount of animal poop the fair sees, the GEE should prove helpful.
“We generate 360 tons of manure and bedding during the fair,” Fortner said. [With this program], we’ll save about $14,000 in waste removal fees. Last year, all the poop got taken to the landfill, which is not a very sustainable solution. This year, Allied Waste will haul it to a farm [for re-use].”
On the Greenway Energy Expo theme, the fair will offer electric powered cars, wind turbines and solar lights.
“We are making our bio-diesel fuel to power various on-site equipment and derived from the oil used to fry various fair foods such as deep-fried GooGoo Clusters,” Fortner said.
North American Midway is providing the thrill rides for this go-around. NAM is billed at the world’s leader in midway thrill rides. Expect to see The Crazy Mouse (a combo of tilt-a-whirl and a roller coaster) and the Megadrop (which requires a mere 1 second to drop 1,000 feet those brave enough to tempt it).
Each year in the shadow of the iconic, and sadly long gone, old-school wooden roller coaster The Skyliner, the Tennessee State Fair features an array of rides, games and agricultural themes. Educational and entertaining exhibits and creative arts competition (for blue ribbons and more than $200,000 in premiums) are always an important highlight. But if you like the grit of a fair, there are, of course, the midway rides, racing pigs, mule pulling, cow milking and sorghum making.
Other events and offerings include grilling and cooking competitions, the Kids Zone and the nostalgic Volunteer Village. In addition, the ever-popular Nashville Roller Girls will be on hand for a bout, admission to which gets you into the fair free.
On opening night, all active and state-based officials with the military, police, fire, rescue, sheriff and troopers will receive free admission for themselves and their family of four or less.
Fair aficionados contend Wilson County has Tennessee’s best fair, but don’t be dissuaded. The Tennessee State Fair delivers midway madness in its own right.
Tennessee State Fair
Where: Tennessee State Fairgrounds
When: Opens Friday, Sept. 11
Times: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays, 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to midnight; Sundays, noon to midnight. Gates close at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with free parking available each day.
Advanced tickets (available at Kroger): $5 and $21 (all-you-can-ride wristband); at the gate, $9/$26; Children 2 and under free, Seniors 55 and up $5.