Staff File Photo by C.B. Schmelter / Racing pigs are a popular event at the annual Hamilton County Fair.

Of this weekend's 15 fall events, less than half are local. But of the six that are in town, the annual Hamilton County Fair is by far the biggest.

Always held the last full weekend in September, the Hamilton County Fair typically draws more than 50,000 people for the two-day event in Chester Frost Park. To make it as convenient for guests as possible, fairgoers can park at Northgate Mall or Middle Valley Recreation Center and catch a shuttle to the park. Fair admission is included in the bus fare.

The Hamilton County Fair offers something for all ages — antique automobiles, retro farming equipment, baking, sewing and agricultural competitions, live entertainment, a children's area, petting zoo, pig races, soccer-playing dogs, crafts and food vendors.

While it's still a little early for fall color, make note of two ongoing shows that can be done in one trip to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge during October. The Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair hosts 75 artists through Oct. 26 in Patriot Park, which is next to Old Mill Square in Pigeon Forge. Admission is a donation to the Rotary Club's benevolence fund.

Then, just drive up the parkway to Gatlinburg, where Dollywood is decked out in all its autumn splendor for the Harvest Festival. Nearly 30 craftsmen from across the country are set up throughout the park demonstrating and selling jewelry, paintings, handmade games, textiles, dolls, pottery, chainsaw carvings, fiddles and holiday decor.

Local artists selected for this Dollywood show are Susan Parry from Signal Mountain and Gregory and Sylvia Warren from Dunlap, Tennessee.

The Harvest Festival is being held simultaneously with the Southern Gospel Jubilee at Dollywood, so when you've shopped 'til you are ready to drop, sit down at one of the free concerts and enjoy the music.


This week's festivals

SEPT. 27-NOV. 2

* National Southern Gospel and Harvest Festival: Dollywood, 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge, Tenn., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, $74 ages 10-61, $61 ages 4-9, $69 ages 62 and older; 500 gospel performances, craftsmen and Great Pumpkin Luminights included in admission. 


SEPT. 27-29

* Blue Ribbon Country Fair: Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, 123 Cromwell Drive, Townsend, Tenn., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, $5; crafters, home and garden contests, hog-calling and rooster-crowing contests. 

* Craft/Bake Sale: Cloud Springs Baptist Church, 210 Cloud Springs Road, Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, free, benefits the Golden Agers church group. 706-866-0164

* Fall Festival: Falling Water Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 6534 Old Dayton Pike, 1-3 p.m. Saturday, free, bounce houses, pumpkin decorating, crafts, games and refreshments.

* Hamilton County Fair: Chester Frost Park, 2277 N. Gold Point Circle, Hixson, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, free admission to fair with shuttle fare of $6 adults, $4 ages 3-12, last ticket sold at 4 p.m. each day; crafters, cloggers, music, home and livestock competitions. 

* Mistletoe Merchants: Wilson County Expo Center, 945 E. Baddour Parkway, Lebanon, Tenn., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday (all times Central), $10 one-day ticket, $18 three-day pass, children 12 and under free; more than 100 merchants at holiday market. 

* National Muscadine Festival: Tsali Notch Vineyard, 140 Harrison Road, Madisonville, Tenn., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, free admission, $5 parking, music, kids fair, muscadine picking, wine and juice tastings, music. 

* Red Bank Community Chili Cook-Off: Red Bank City Park on Dayton Boulevard, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, free, bring your homemade chili to enter contest.

* Ride the Rails Festival: L&N Depot, 150 Railroad Ave., Mineral Bluff, Ga., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, $11 ages 13 and older, $6 ages 2-12, $2 hand-car ride, 5-mile round-trip train ride, model-train railroad display, hand-car rides sponsored by Tri-State Model Railroaders. 706-455-8903

* River Clay Fine Arts Festival: Decatur City Hall, 402 Lee Street, Decatur, Ala., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday (all times Central), $5 ages 13 and older, 75 artists from 12 states in juried show. 

* Riverfest Arts and Crafts Festival: Etowah River Park, 600 Brown Industrial Parkway, Canton, Ga., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, $5 ages 11 and older; 200 crafters, family entertainment. 

* Sandy Springs Festival: Heritage Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs, Ga., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, free admission; several hundred arts, crafts and food vendors, chalk art competition, children's programs, music. 

* Wags N Wheels: TVA Chickamauga Dam, 4601 N. Access Road, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, $25 car show entry, free for spectators, benefit for Pet Placement Center includes food and craft vendors, Hubcap Plinko, car smash. 


SEPT. 28-OCT. 26

* Fall Fun: Cloudland Canyon State Park, 122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, Ga., noon-5 p.m. each Saturday, $6 adults, $3 ages 2-12, $5 parking per vehicle; view fall color from tractor-pulled hayrides, includes family-friendly activities. 


SEPT. 28-OCT. 26

* Rotary Club Craft Fair: Patriot Park, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, admission by donation to benefit Pigeon Forge Rotary Club's philanthropic projects; 75 craftsmen. 


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