From dance contests to livestock shows, the Appalachian Fair provides plenty of opportunities for community members of all ages to engage in some healthy, but fun, competition.
Kicking off its 87th year today at 3 p.m., Phil Booher, manager of the Appalachian Fair, said the fair started as just a small event between neighbors, where they competed to see who had the best items, such as cattle, pies and canned goods.
“I think that has just stuck (over the years),” Booher said. “Everybody enjoys a little competition and they like to see if they can beat their neighbors or not.”
He said this year’s fair contest entries have soared, with approximately 7,500 youth and 2,750 Farm and Home entries. Booher said 1,000 head of livestock are also expected to be shown at the fair this year.
“It looks like the youth numbers are probably up some. Our livestock numbers are up,” he said. “We’re about the same on the Farm and Home building.”
Inside the Farm and Home building Friday afternoon, blue and red ribbons could be spotted almost immediately on entries spread out through the building.
Lisa Bradley, director of the building, said Friday that the entry numbers for her building vary because the entries come in phases. She said the nonperishable entries for her building have been at the fairgrounds since Aug. 10 and have already been judged, but the perishable items are checked in and judged later.
“We have everything from art, arts and crafts, we have canning, we have needlework, we have creative cooking, which is cooked food that comes in during the week of the fair,” Bradley said. “We have a new division that we started last year called Recycling for Tennessee and it is sponsored partially by one of the litter grants in the area. We have a lot of unique stuff. We have some beautiful photographs this year. We have beautiful quilts.”
Booher said FCCLA and FFA entries and exhibits — artwork, photography, crafts — will be held in the youth building behind the Farm and Home building and said their non-perishables were judged Thursday. He said their perishables will be judged Monday.
“4-H (contestants) will have their canned goods, their ... field crops, their hays,” Booher said. “We have the cattle shows. We have a junior show, which is the 4-H and FFA kids ... on Monday night. That’s beef cattle. Our open show is on Tuesday.”
He said the open show is for both junior and adult contestants.
“Our dairy show is on Friday and Saturday and our sheep show is on Friday and Saturday,” Booher said. “We have different breeds of cattle (shown). Each of them have their own separate show.”
He said livestock will be judged and placed the same day as their designated show.
“Everybody loves it. Of course, we have our Little Britches contest, which is for the kids that are underage,” Booher said. “They can lead in an animal with their parents.”
The Fairest of the Fair contest and pageant, which will select the new Miss Appalachian Fair, will be held tonight at 8 on the Museum Stage.
The Museum Stage will also host a Little Miss Fairest of the Fair on Tuesday, a Battle of the Bands competition Wednesday night, a Youth Talent Contest on Thursday, So You Think You Can Dance contest Friday and an Appalachian Fair’s Got Talent on Saturday.
“We have a celebrity milking contest on Thursday night and we have a watermelon-eating contest every night,” Booher said. “We will have a cornhole tournament on Saturday morning.”
For more information on contests, visit the fair’s website at www.appalachianfair.com.