Wilson County Fair is Fun for the Family
Wilson County Fair, Tennessee’s largest fair which opened this weekend and runs through August 25, is your ticket to the simpler life. Step back to a time that revolves around community, raising livestock, reaping earth’s bounty from honest sweat, blood and tears. In the background, over the squeal of racing pigs, bleating sheep and bluegrass music you can hear the strains of carnival rides and vendors boasting their wares.
Some of you may remember the days when the agricultural fair was the major event of the year. Wilson County has preserved this tradition since 1853, and after going through a renaissance in the 1980s, has continued to add new events, contests and attractions every year. Attendance now tops 500,000 over the nine days of the fair, which is held every August on the outskirts of Lebanon.
This year the theme is “Pulling Together” and each day the focus is on something new. Monday, August 20 is about family, friends and reunions, Tuesday is business and agriculture, Thursday is history and tradition, Saturday is fun and celebrations. The fair’s website and Facebook page are your best resources for all the events and activities.
We had a friend visiting from Italy, so thought this would give her a great taste of local culture. It’s always fun to climb on antique tractors or prowl through old barns filled with ancient farm implements. We cheered on ducks and pigs racing around a narrow track, and enjoyed the dead-eyed concentration of Border Collies in the sheepdog trials, obedient to the different pitch of their owner’s whistle.
Mesmerized, we watched hands expertly shaping wet clay on a potter’s wheel, and felt fresh ground cornmeal pour though our fingers. The horse lovers in our group were keen to watch the horses show off in the arena, and perhaps the best part of any agricultural fair is walking past the pens of prize animals, seeing them up close and personal.
Fiddlers Grove Historical Village, situated in the fairgrounds as a permanent site to preserve local Wilson County history, is filled with artisans demonstrating pioneer crafts such as spinning and weaving, hide tanning, soap making. It is also popular for organized tours throughout the year.
Before dark, we admired the birds in all their feathered finery. Ruffled Jacobin pigeons dressed ready for the ball coyly hid their faces, cheeky geese pecked at inquisitive fingers, and proud roosters puffed out their chests.
That night we met folk whose hands were rough from repairing farm ploughs, eyes crinkled from years in the sun, boots muddy with manure, hats oiled with the sweat of hard work. Friendly welcomes with sweet Southern charm, stories of families and home remedies, samplings of fresh churned icecream, and the dancing rhythm of fiddles and banjos.
The fair is a wonderful showcase for prize-winning talent and almost a dozen music stages. Exhibit halls are filled with home baked goods, preserves, flowers, produce, wines, arts and crafts, photo exhibits and quilts.
Don’t miss Tennessee’s best and brightest fair this week, every night ending with a spectacular fireworks celebration!