Homegrown country musicians Lauren Alaina and Brandon Davis will headline the re-imagined Little Debbie Hamilton County Fair this year, county officials announced Tuesday.
The three-day event will be Nov. 10-12 at the 2,100-acre McDonald Farm in Sale Creek. Canceled due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 and again because of weather last year, the fair is moving to the new location with a new vision, officials said.
Hours will be 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 10, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 11 and 11 a.m. to about 6 p.m. Nov. 12. A fireworks show is planned to mark the end of the fair.
"We really look forward to having the community up there at this historic piece of property that the county is investing in," Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp said at an event to announce the headliners. "Sooner than later it will be open to the public as a park, but in the meantime is going to be the host site of the all-new Hamilton County Fair."
In 2021, the county purchased the farm for $16 million. The Hamilton County Fair was previously at Chester Frost Park.
Alaina, from Rossville, Georgia, and Davis, who is from Hamilton County, will make the fair feel like a homegrown event for hometown folks, Karen Shostak, deputy director of Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, said after the event at the Hamilton County Courthouse.
The fair has never had this much entertainment, Shostak said. Along with the music, she said there will be classic amusement rides, agricultural exhibits, craftsmanship and an expanded area for children.
Since it's being held over the Veterans Day weekend, there will be a special military focus, according to a news release.
Along with other local musicians, Shostak said there will be performances from Freedom Sings USA, a program that pairs songwriters with veterans and their families to help them reach emotional balance through the process of songwriting.
At the announcement, Wamp said the vision for the fair is a collaboration with Commissioner Gene-o Shipley, R-Soddy-Daisy. They both take a lot of pride in what's planned for the fair, the mayor said.
Standing in the Courthouse after the announcement, Shipley said he hopes people from throughout the county and nearby communities come to the fair. McDonald's Farm is a beautiful property, he said, and there'll be plenty of on-site parking, unlike at Chester Frost Park.
"I am looking forward to a big crowd and a big event," Shipley said. "Everybody in North Hamilton County is really excited."
Adam Presley, a resident of Soddy-Daisy, said he is overseeing the equine portion of the fair. After the announcement, he said the fair will host a rodeo and opportunities for people to learn about different breeds of horses.
Jennifer Duvall, a resident of Sale Creek and agricultural advocate, said there will be agricultural contests for best produce and crafts, chili cooking, pie eating contests and a petting zoo.
Speaking after the event, she said urban sprawl is destroying the agricultural way of life, and it's important for people from urban areas to learn about how their food is grown. Young people should also be shown there are career opportunities in agriculture, she said.
On Tuesday, officials also debuted "2023 Hamilton County Fair Song" by local musician Jessica Hitte, a cheery country song inviting everyone to the event.
Davis said he's been touring the nation and is looking forward to playing for a hometown crowd.
"We've been all over the place, man, from here up to West Virginia, Maryland, you name it," Davis said.
Davis said he grew up off Highway 58 in Hamilton County and has enjoyed taking his own children to the fair. He said he grew up going to McDonald Farm, and his favorite thing about the farm was the corn slide — an attraction that lets children slide into a large container of corn like a ball pit.
"The simplest thing can make you happy as a kid, and I wish I could do it over again," Davis said.
Tickets are on sale at hamiltontnfair.com.
Daily prices range from $5 to $7, with discounts for active military, veterans, emergency service personnel and teachers. A three-day pass is available for $12, and children under 10 are free.