Since its opening in 2001, this 92-acre multi-purpose facility at the foot of White Oak Mountain has hosted some of the Southeast’s top horse and livestock shows, as well as a variety of other events such as concerts, family reunions, church and school events, rodeos and clinics. The hotel/motel tax helps fund the center’s operations budget and has proven to be a good investment. Tri-State has attracted exhibitors, vendors and visitors who often take time to enjoy Bradley County’s other tourist attractions such as our Civil War history and Red Clay State Park.
Since 2004, Tri-State has hosted the annual Foothills Country Fair which is scheduled to open Thursday and will continue through Sunday. The fair was developed and is operated by an all-volunteer team from nine Ruritan Clubs in Bradley and Hamilton counties. Led by fair chairman Louie Alford, the clubs from Cherokee Too, Flint Springs, Harrison, McDonald/Black Fox, North Lee, Oak Grove, Taylor, Valley View and Westside have done an outstanding job of providing a fun-filled “stay-cation” for residents throughout the region.
Events include a carnival, concerts, beauty pageants, cultural arts contests, dog show, lawn mower racing, big wheel races, demolition derby, various animal and livestock exhibits, and more.
An exciting new event added to the fair this year is the Tennessee state championship barbeque cook off. This event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society with $10,000 in prize money at stake. KCBS-sanctioned representatives Don Harwell, Mark Haggitt and Richard Preston will serve as judges. So far, 47 professional teams are listed as barbeque competitors on the fair’s website, some coming from as far away as Minnesota and Indiana.
Something for all ages can be found at this year’s fair. Gates open Thursday at 6 p.m. for the carnival and “Fairest of the Fair Pageants” only. The Wee Miss pageant is scheduled for 6:30, the Little Miss pageant at 7 p.m., the Fair Princess pageant at 7:30, and ending with the Junior Fairest of the Fair pageant at 8 p.m. Contestants are asked to pre-register online or call 339-1989.
Friday’s schedule promises to be fun-filled with gates opening at 4 p.m. However, contestants in the barbeque cookoff are asked to check in and set up between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. There will be entertainment and contests on the small stage beginning at 4 p.m. and the kids area will open at 7 p.m. The popular Bartlee Norton & 64 Highway will take the stage at 7 p.m. followed by Joe Collins and the Collins Brothers Band at 8. Grammy Award winning band Shenandoah will round out the evening with a performance at 9 p.m.
Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and the day will be highlighted by the annual baby pageant at 10:30 a.m. and the people’s choice barbeque contest at 11:30 a.m. There are many other events throughout the day and evening including contests, musical entertainment and much more. Gates open Sunday at noon and a complete listing of activities and ticket prices can be found on the fair’s website at http://foothillscountryfair.webs.com.
The Foothills Country Fair is the result of hard work and many long hours by members of the Cherokee District Ruritan Clubs. The clubs return the fair’s proceeds to the communities which they serve. The money funds various community projects and contributes greatly to our quality of life.
Pins are now on sale and are available from any Ruritan Club or Ruritan member. They can also be purchased at the gate at Tri-State Exhibition Center when the fair gets under way.
We can all be proud of the 9th Annual Foothills County Fair and Tri-State Exhibition Center. I encourage everyone to go out and enjoy something in our own backyard. Visit the web site at www.tsec.org.