The Wilson County Expo Center, a 78,000 square foot air-conditioned facility, will add ample space for exhibits, demonstrations and pageants this year.
“We are so excited about the Expo Center. As you can tell from our list, we’ve got lots of things planned, and we’re being able to do things that we have dreamed about for years,” said fair coordinator Helen McPeak.
This year, because there will be more space, the fair will start a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program. It’s something McPeak said fair officials have wanted to pursue for a long time, and people of all ages will be able to participate in the many hands-on stations that will be set up in the red-roof schoolhouse.
The Expo Center will hold the Hometown U.S.A. exhibit area. This area will be in the north hall and include “Pick Tennessee products,” the farmers market, the egg competition, Wilson County Schools exhibits, the baking show and bakery.
Adult exhibits, fine-arts exhibits, photography and stained-glass exhibits will be in the south hall.
McPeak encouraged everyone from Wilson County to enter contests.
There will be new competitions this year such as the cornbread challenge, the FCE Smokey Mountains Christmas Ornament competition, banana derby, ham bone express pig race, Lego competition, mini-car derby and recycled yard and garden art competition.
The fair also comes with the chance to help wildfire victims. The Wilson County FCE will join with other clubs across the state to help rebuild holiday collections and create memories for the victims of the Sevier County wildfires in November with the Smokey Mountains Christmas Ornament Competition.
The recycled yard and garden art must be made with recycled materials and must be able to withstand outdoor conditions. McPeak said art will be placed across the grounds to decorate the area. She hopes many people will participate.
The community youth rally will also be new this year. It will take place Aug. 23.
“We are hoping that all of the churches will participate in that and bring the youth in and have a big rally. I think that’s something that’s going to be good,” said McPeak.
The fair is not usually open during the week in the daytime, but because of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, the gates will open at 10 a.m. and will not close until 11:30 p.m. There will be fireworks as the sun starts to disappear, and there will be music across the fairgrounds. The buildings, exhibits and rides will be open during the eclipse.
“We’ll be offering the best seat in the house,” said McPeak.
Winners’ names will be drawn to ride the Ferris wheel during the eclipse.
There will be six different stages with entertainment each night by well-known artists, sponsored by Bates Ford. The Oak Ridge Boys will perform Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. with Tony Jackson. Zach Williams will perform Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. with Jason Crabb.
There will be four new rides this year, the free fall, polar express, skyfall and power surge. For other entertainment, the Anastasini Circus will perform aerial silk shows, and Wade Henry, the high roller, will ride his bicycle and juggle.
The fair will have a new petting zoo provider, which will offer camel rides, racing pigs and a giant horse.
The fair’s grand opening and ribbon cutting will be Aug. 18 at 4 p.m. McPeak encouraged people to ride the Music City Star to the fairgrounds or use the satellite parking. The satellite parking will be free, and buses will make trips from Cumberland University’s football parking lot each day from 4-11 p.m. to deliver people to and from the fair.