Fair time in Crossville is always exciting. People come out of the woodwork for a night on the town. Frito banditos, funnel cakes, music, rides, pageant dresses, stinky cattle stalls and so much more come to mind when we think of the county fair. But what most do not know is our beloved fair had a rocky start. It took several goes, people, and years to get it right.
The first fair held in Cumberland County was at the Courthouse in 1910. It showcased farm crops, livestock, and garden treasures. The crops and flowers were placed around the courthouse along with free ranging cattle, sheep, and hogs. Problems arose when the animals began eating the displays.
In 1912 the Boy’s Potato Club became so popular that they went on to win the State Fair prize of $50 for their exhibit. From there the fair went on to fade out. It required a lot of time that most did not have to spare until Mr. Bob Lyons came along.
Lyons began to organize the fair and made it a regular occurrence in the county. He used the City School (now Phoenix School) and Garrison Park for the exhibits. Crops were in the gym. Floriculture, domestic art, science, and educational exhibits were in the classrooms. Cattle were shown in the park.
Post #163 of the American Legion began helping with the fair in 1930. Those from the Legion along with locals tried to continue the fair but the burden built and eventually it came to an end. WW2 then took precedence.
Finally, in 1947 a board of directors were formed and the fair we know today was in its beginnings. Like its predecessor the fair was held at Garrison Park and tents were set up around the outside. The first Cumberland County Fair Board president was Lewis Bohannon, he served for 7 years.
In 1950 Cumberland County contributed $5,000 so that a livestock barn could be built to house exhibits. It was built near the National Guard Armory.
The first fair to take place in The Cumberland County Community Complex was in 1972. Many still remember those days and the famous himalaya ride.
Today the fair association is an incorporated non-profit organization that exists to serve Cumberland County. Board members work tirelessly without pay to put on each event every year at the Community Complex.
President Garry Hood and the fair board members won the 2021 AAA Division Fair for the Tennessee Association of Fairs.
The Cumberland County Fair has come a long way and continues to grow each year, just like the town that hosts it. Happy 75 years!
- Cumberland County’s First Hundred Years, Bullard & Krechniak, p. 231 – 232
- The Way it Was, Stanley, p. 180