This past week, Murfreesboro was home to a historic mark in history, the milestone celebration of 100 years of fairs throughout the Volunteer State.
“Agriculture is the heart of Tennessee’s fairs,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Fairs promote agriculture education among all ages. For some, attending a county fair is the only way they are exposed to farming and its connection to everyday life. All fairs are an asset in highlighting agriculture as Tennessee’s top industry.”
The Putnam County Fair was named the 2021 Champion of Champions Fair, the highest honor awarded. The Champion of Champions is selected from the previous year’s division winners. Forty-Nine fairs received the Award of Merit based on agriculture, educational value, overall operations, and the promotion of local interest and community spirit.
Tennessee Association of Fairs (TAF) President Will Lowery said, “Agricultural fairs provide good, clean competition, entertainment for all ages, community support, and promote our youth.” Lowery has been an active, long-time volunteer with the Gibson County Fair, the oldest continuously running fair in the South, running for 166 years. “More than 18,000 volunteers are key to that success statewide, representing the spirit of greatness in our Volunteer State,” Lowery added.
In counties close to Murfreessboro... Bedford, Coffee, Warren, Wilson and Williamson Counties were all a part of the event.
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In 2021, nearly 2.7 million visitors attended county, regional, and state fairs in Tennessee, enjoying more than 153,000 exhibits in livestock, farm crops, competitions, and other exhibitions. More than 18,000 volunteers made those fairs possible, with events contributing $12.8 million in economic impact.
The winners of the primary 2021 fair categories include:
State Champion: Clay County Fair
1st Runner-up: Decatur County Fair
2nd Runner-up: Benton County Fair
Most Improved: Meigs County Fair
State Champion: Obion County Fair
1st Runner-up: Lincoln County Fair
2nd Runner-up: Warren County Fair
Most Improved: Dyer County Fair
State Champion: Cumberland County Fair
1st Runner-up: Greene County Fair
2nd Runner-up: Robertson County Fair
Most Improved: Gibson County Fair
Premiere Awards (selected from among previous winners):
Champion of Champions: Sevier County Fair
Division AA: White County Fair
Division AAA: Lauderdale County Fair
In the regional division, the Appalachian Fair and the Tennessee Valley Fair received the Award of Merit. In the state division, the Wilson County Fair - Tennessee State Fair received the Award of Merit based on overall fair operations. Other 2021 honorees include Libby Strange of the Sevier County Fair who received the Judy Basse Memorial Award for outstanding fair secretary, and Phil Booher of the Appalachian Fair who received the Thornton Taylor Award for outstanding dedication to the fair programs in Tennessee.
The statewide Fair Showcase held in Rutherford County offered prize money and awards in 41 categories including best fair catalog, website, educational displays, promotional videos, posters, scrapbooks, creative ideas, and free-standing and table-top exhibits. In its 23rd year, the competition drew 471 entries from 36 fairs.