The 2016 Tennessee Valley Fair wrapped up Sept. 18 after a ten-day run, ending its 97th year in Knoxville.
Thousands fought the rain and soggy conditions to take in the last day of the fair.
“We wanted to come out today because it was the last day of the fair,” Rebecca Smith said. “It was raining but we decided to push through the rain and we’re glad we did.”
After a week of sunshine and high heat, people at the Tennessee Valley Fair spent the day cooling down.
Fairgoers saw scattered rain showers Sunday, but it did not stop them from enjoying the day.
“I like it,” Regan Carney, 10, said. “I like to ride the rides, and see the animals and definitely eat the food.”
The fair is nearing 100 years in Knoxville, and those born and raised in the city said the fair has given them decades worth of memories.
“My parents came when they were kids, then they brought me and my sister and then we’re bringing our kids, so it’s definitely a family tradition,” Paul Carney said.
This year’s fair came on the heels of two high profile fair scandals in Tennessee: one in Greene County, where three children fell from a Ferris Wheel, and another incident in Memphis, when a ride malfunctioned, sending several people to the hospital.
“I’ve always been hesitant about getting on rides at fair but then again the fair only happens once so maybe I’ll get on today,” Smith said. “The scandals have made me want to take a step back and think maybe I shouldn’t do them but the scandals have made me want to take a step back and think maybe I shouldn’t do them.”
Though recent accidents have made some fairgoers second guess jumping on a fair ride, it’s not stopping others from having fun.
“These things in life happen so we’re not too worried about it,” Carney said. “You take more of a risk driving a car than this.”
To assure visitors, the Tennessee Valley Fair took extra precautions this year to ensure everyone stayed safe.
“Our hearts went out to the folks who were affected in Greene County and Memphis,” Sarah Carson, Marketing Director for the Tennessee Valley Fair, said. “We were extra diligent this year about bringing in extra safety and ride inspectors. We understand the public’s concerns and we’re trying to take the extra steps in keeping everyone safe.”
Despite the sizzling start and rainy end, all in all fairgoers said this year’s fair was nothing short of a success.
“I’m new to the area but I’m quickly starting to learn that it’s very hometown,” Smith said. “That’s why I wanted to come out to the fair. It’s a great opportunity to see Knoxville for what it is, and I like it a lot.”