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The Tennessee State Fair prepares for its Wilson County debut Thursday

Wilson County Fair TN State Fair
Posted at 7:42 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 20:47:59-04

LEBANON, Tenn. (WTVF) — Thursday night, the first-ever combined Wilson County Fair -- Tennessee State Fair will be underway with a grand parade and half-priced tickets. To get everything ready, volunteers were up with the chickens to make sure the livestock barns looked impeccable and the rides were ready to rumble.

"We’re spit polishing and making it perfect," said Richard Reithoffer, who owns the company running the carnival rides and food stands.

Of course, fair organizers aren't working from scratch. The Tennessee State Fair merged with the longstanding Wilson County Fair to make it bigger and better than ever.

"This just enables us to have statewide competitions and this being in the name of the Tennessee State Fair that we were not previously doing," said Randall Clemons, President of the combined fair.

Bigger sounds better to Barbara Boone, who runs a private vendor stand in the famed Fiddler's Grove. "I have to bring in all my shelving, my tables, my supplies," said Boone.

She hopes she'll sell out of her homemade baskets that come with a lifetime guarantee -- well sort of.

"Something wears out in it, I can fix it unless you let a dog get a hold of it, then I ain’t fixing it," she said with a smile.

Speaking of fixings, there seem to be more food and ride options than they can keep count. "One… uhh… I think we have four roller coasters out on the fairgrounds," said Reithoffer.

But there may be an uninvited and unwelcome guest this year at the fair -- COVID-19. That's why organizers are putting protections into place to make sure it doesn't come home with you. In addition to numerous hand washing stations, Reithoffer's company has also stepped up their ride cleaning protocols. "We fog all of our equipment out here on the whole show. All the rides, all the seats,, the food stands, the games -- everything has been fogged by this chemical," he said.

Clemons says masks and social distancing are also encouraged but not enforced. "We just want everyone to be safe," said Clemons.

Because when company is coming over, nothing should be out of place. "We missed getting to do it and our visitors missed getting to come here," said Clemons.