No Midways this year in Gray… Appalachian Fair will end run at 93 years due to COVID-19

Published 2:38 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2020

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There will be no thrills, chills, or screams this year. All those great pies and canned goods won’t be able to be displayed. And young farmers wanting to showcase all the hard work they have put into their livestock will have to wait another year as well.
This coming on the heels of an announcement by the organizers of the Appalachian Fair which would have been celebrating its 94th year this year in Gray being put on ice due to the COVID-19 world-wide pandemic – just one of the many casualties that the illness has brought to 2020.
The Tennessee State Fair made their announcement yesterday as well that their fair would not be held due to COVID-19.
Fairgoers, young and old, have looked forward to the August event where they could take in a wide range of up and coming artists performing on the Main Stage on the Midway while enjoying a hot batch of kettle corn, a corn dog, or perhaps a funnel cake.
Young ladies who had planned on taking the stage to compete for the Fairest of the Fair will now have to stow away those beautiful gowns for another year as well.
For some, it was just about coming and strolling through all the buildings and getting some free stuff from local businesses and picking up information on services offered.
And as for the kiddos, they will not be able to take advantage of the flying swings, the scrambler or the many rides that James H. Drew Exposition brought to the fair each year.
A statement was released by the board of directors in relation to the shuttering down of this year’s event.
“It is with great sadness and regret the Board of Directors of the Appalachian Fair, under the guidance and recommendations of the Northeast TN Regional Health Department, the TN Department of Agriculture, and adhering to the CDC Guidelines, has decided the 2020 fair, scheduled for August 24-29, will not take place as planned,” the statement read.
“While we will miss seeing everyone in August, the Board feels this is the responsible decision in the interest of public health. This difficult decision was based on many conversations with the state and local health leaders.
“With the restrictions caused by COVID-19, the Board does not feel we could create the same safe and enjoyable fair experience the region has grown to expect,” the statement continued.
“The impact of the fair’s cancellation will be felt far beyond the loss of our annual celebration,” stated Phil Booher, Fair Manager.
“The effect this will have on all businesses, families, farms, adult and youth competitors, exhibitors, and sponsors will be felt in the community for several years,” Booher added.
Even though this year’s fair is a no-go, plans for the return of the fair next year is already being planned according to the release.
“The Appalachian Fair is not going away. The fair has been a family tradition in the region since 1926, and we will be back. We are already working on plans to make our 2021 Fair, August 23rd-28th, even better,” the statement concluded.

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