The best fair in Tennessee is just days away from heading down the Warren County runway.
Fueled by beauty pageants, carnival rides, livestock shows and food booths, the Warren County A&L Fair is the reigning Best Fair in the State as proclaimed by the Tennessee State Fairs Association.
Warren County can also boast the reigning Tennessee Fairest of the Fair in local queen Emily Faith Pennington.
The fairgrounds have been getting tender, loving care in anticipation of opening day this Friday. Volunteers with the Master Gardeners Association have been working since May to beautify the landscape.
“I remember as a child, and especially as a teen, having so much fun at the fair,” said Master Gardener member Kerry Mullican.
She said her favorite ride was the Paratrooper, but says she doesn’t expect to be stepping on too many rides this year. “Maybe the merry-go-round with a grandchild but that would be about it,” said Kerry. “Now I come to the fair to eat. The food seems to taste better here.”
Master Gardeners were focusing much of their attention Tuesday to their area behind the grandstand. Roy McDaniel was hanging a unique Master Gardener sign that was made from laminated seed packets.
“The women with this group are enormously creative,” said Roy. “They just keep me around to lift heavy things.”
McDaniel said he’s been volunteering with the Master Gardeners for around four years. He joked with fellow member Saundra Williams about her longevity.
“This is Saundra’s 75th year,” said Roy with a smile.
Saundra said Master Gardeners look to take advantage of large fair crowds to provide general information to those looking for some extra green-thumb knowledge.
“We want to do more education out here,” said Saundra. “We’re going to have a soil erosion demonstration because we figure with all the rain we’ve been having people might want to know what’s going on with their yard. We’re also going to have literature on composting and lasagna gardening.”
There’s a Trash to Treasure Alley where recycled items have been transformed into yard ornaments like a frog on a mushroom and a hanging bee.
The reach of the Master Gardeners extends throughout the fairgrounds to the old Antioch church building at one end of Fairfield Village. The cleanup efforts at the church have special meaning for Glenda Solomon.
“I was married in this church 30 years ago right around the time they moved it here to the fairgrounds,” said Glenda, whose wedding date with husband Eddie was Sept. 9, 1989. “We stop by here every year to see it.”
Dale McDaniel and Beverly Coffey were busy doing upkeep outside the church.
“We want it to be attractive and welcoming,” said Dale. “Not a lot of people realize it’s the Master Gardeners who do all this. We want to thank Lowe’s for working with us on reduced prices for a lot of these annuals. We have a small budget through the Master Gardeners, but a lot of us spend our own money to make it look good.”