WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — After more than a century at the Nashville Fairgrounds, the Tennessee State Fair will have a new home starting this summer. Both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly have approved a plan that would relocate the annual state fair to Wilson County. Governor Bill Lee still has to sign it into law.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto is already licking his lips at the prospects of fair food and increased economic activity. "We take it as an honor to be the host, and we want to do a good job," he said in an interview with NewsChannel 5.
Under the plan, the Wilson County Fair and the Tennessee State Fair will merge into one mega, ten-day event each August. With a bigger name, Mayor Hutto hopes more out-of-town guests will come spend money. "They’ll eat breakfast here, they’ll eat lunch here, they’ll get a hotel room," said Hutto. "They’ll be our guest, we feel like, for the one and a half weeks really."
It won't just be the name that changes. By becoming the new state fair, it will come with more state funding. " We start on two buildings and hopefully have them ready by 2022," said Quintin Smith, the Director of the James E. Ward Agricultural Center, which operates the fairgrounds complex.
Already, the State of Tennessee has allocated money for some new construction. "One of them will be known as the Agriculture Learning Center, the other will be a Tennessee Products building," said Smith.
Hutto is also hoping the state fair will pave the way for road improvements near the fairgrounds complex. "We’ve talked to TDOT a little bit about the interchange. It would be great if we could get an exit ramp coming west from the Fairgrounds that way you don’t have to cross traffic in order to get on the interstate," said Mayor Hutto.
Smith has been with the Ward Agricultural Center since the very beginning and has rarely missed a Wilson County or Tennessee State Fair. He says it was time to move on from the Nashville Fairgrounds, which is half the size of the Wilson County Fairground complex. "They’re just not really suitable for livestock shows and being able to expand those shows," said Smith.
While so much will likely change, Quintin hopes the heart of the fair will remain the same -- a love and appreciation for agriculture. "So it’ll be a real win-win for everybody," said Smith.
The first combined Wilson County Fair -- Tennessee State Fair will be held this August 12 - 21. For more information, click here.