For more than 150 years, Tennesseans have been coming to Nashville from all over the state to attend the biggest event of the year for quality family fun and state pride – the Tennessee State Fair. With thrilling rides for kids and adults alike, countless competitions in everything from baking to quilting and so many music performances it’s impossible to attend them all, the ten-day fair truly has something for everyone. From Sept. 7 to 16, the fair will be held at the Nashville Fairgrounds at 625 Smith Ave.
Based around the theme “The Heart of Tennessee,” this year’s fair invites its attendees to think about what makes the state special and consider its rich history, as well as the diversity of its citizens and their accomplishments.
“The most important thing about the fair is the consistency of its ability to celebrate the citizens of Tennessee,” Kate Lansaw, the fair’s marketing manager, said. “And this year’s theme, well, the true ‘heart’ of Tennessee is the people.”
With so much to do and just a few days to do it all, it can be hard to decide whether to take a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl, watch the pig race or run in the 4-H-sponsored Funnel Cake 5K. Take a look below for the Hustler’s carefully curated list of the top 5 attractions at this year’s Tennessee state fair:
Music City Monster Mayhem
On Sept. 7 and 8, the fair commences with its biggest show: the monster truck show, featuring Bigfoot and its sister truck Snake Bite. The $15 ticket fee for the two-hour show includes not only general fair admission, but also the opportunity to attend a pre-show pit party. Party attendees can meet the truck drivers and take pictures with the trucks for a truly up-close and personal experience.
4-H live butterfly exhibit
Manned and maintained by the Davidson County 4-H, the 2,000-square-foot interactive butterfly exhibit has doubled in size compared to last year’s exhibit and will have more than 500 butterflies throughout the duration of the fair. Visitors can feed butterflies fruit and nectar, and participate in educational activities and games to learn about the importance of pollinators in society.
“That’s something that we find very important here at the fair, especially since we have a strong agricultural background,” Lansaw said. “We want to make sure everyone understands the importance of [pollinators] in that industry.”
Deep-fried GooGoo Clusters
This year the state fair will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the deep-fried GooGoo Cluster being named the fair’s official treat. Lansaw called them “a bit of a delicacy,” as they will only be available at one vendor booth: the Strickland’s funnel cakes booth near the food court.
Muddy Roots Music “Country Roots” stage
From the team behind the Muddy Roots Music Festival in Cookeville comes the state fair’s music programming, featuring the “sounds of traditional country music in a classic setting,” according to the group’s website. Their ten-day schedule spotlights traditional honky tonk music, with special guest Pat Reedy and the Longtime Goners, featured for a nine-day residency. Keep up with the Muddy Roots on social media (@muddyrootsmusic on Instagram and Twitter) to find out about special surprise acts as they are announced.
Festival of Nations
As opening night of the fair takes place on Brazilian Independence Day, this year the fair’s Festival of Nations will host a special Brazilian celebration with traditional cuisine, jiu-jitsu demonstrations and several Brazilian cultural acts, along with the usual entertainment and food from elsewhere all around the world.
Whether you enjoy jamming out to traditional country, learning about the agriculture industry or just hanging with friends at the carnival, this year’s state fair has something for everyone.
“While we provide family fun, it’s not just for families. We have music, we have rides… come experience the Midway and have a good time,” Lansaw said.