Johnson City Press: Happy third-graders at the Appalachian Fair

Happy third-graders at the Appalachian Fair

Robert Houk • Aug 22, 2018 at 12:00 AM

A steady rain finds its way to the fairgrounds in Gray just after 1 p.m. Tuesday. The downpour lasts for 20 minutes before the sun begins peeking out from behind the low-hanging clouds.

Activity soon resumes on the Appalachian Fair’s midway, as workers from the James H. Drew Exposition check the workings of the machinery. The spinning tea cups come alive, as do the bumblebees and the flying Dumbos.

Minutes later, third-graders from Happy Valley Elementary School in Carter County emerge from one of the exhibition buildings. Their teachers issue brief instructions.

“Stay together.”

“Don’t run.”

Despite a lingering drizzle, students begin lining up for the rides.

Fun And Educational

Mary Baines and Julie Keller are among six Happy Valley teachers keeping an eye on the children as they cross the midway. There are more than 100 third-graders visiting the Appalachian Fair on the day.

The visit is one of the most anticipated field trips Keller said her students will take all year. It is both a learning and entertaining experience for the children.

“We go through the exhibits and students learn about careers and technology,” Keller said. “Students also see the sheep, pigs and other farm animals.”

Baines said students were also fascinated by the beekeeping exhibit and the wildlife displays.

“They learned possums kill ticks,” she said.

Loving The Bees

Bailee Jarrett, 8, said the beekeeping exhibit was her one of her favorite displays. She also ranked the bumblebee ride as one of the top attractions.

Jarrett, who has attended the Appalachian Fair before with her family, said she and her classmates were having a “great time.”

Keller said the class trip is the first time many of her students have been to the Appalachian Fair.

At the tea cups ride, students are lining up to take a turn. Noel Turner, who operates the attraction, tells students there is “plenty of room” for everyone.

“The rules are simple,” she said. “Stay seated.”

Turner said she enjoys working with young children.

“They (students) are so energetic,” she said. “We try to get them pumped up before the ride begins. It’s more fun for them.”

Tickets for general admission are $8 for adults, $3 for children ages 6 to 11 and free for children ages 5 and younger.

For more information on any of the fair’s activities, go to

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