IF YOU GO
What: Foothills Country Fair.
When: 4-10 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Tri-State Exhibition Center, 200 Nature's Trail SW, Cleveland, Tenn.
Admission: $10 weekend pin; today, $10 single-day ticket for ages 13 and up, $3 ages 6-12; Saturday-Sunday, $5 for single-day ticket; carnival rides not included.
Ruritan Clubs from Bradley and Hamilton counties are uniting to put on their biggest event in the nine years they've hosted the Foothills Country Fair.
The fair opens today in the Tri-State Exhibition Center in Cleveland, Tenn.
In addition to Fairest of the Fair pageants and finest of the domestic arts exhibits, there will be contests for all ages, a carnival and nightly music. There will also be a petting zoo with animals ranging from traditional barnyard sheep and goats to unusual additions such as Clydesdale horses, a 3,000-pound bull, ostrich and sugar gliders.
Tonight's events include contests 4-7 p.m., a kids area 4-8 p.m. followed by the music of Bartlee Norton and 64 Highway, Collins Brothers Band and Shenandoah.
Saturday's fun kicks off with a cutest baby contest at 10:30 a.m. But the highlight of the day is the Kansas City Barbecue Society state championship. Fair spokesman Louie Alford said 82 barbecue teams will be set up around the fairgrounds, with about a dozen of them amateurs.
The professionals include Myron Mixon, three-time World KCBS champ; Johnny Trigg, who recently won the Pitmaster Kingsford Barbecue Championship and many teams that fans of "BBQ Pitmasters" television show will recognize.
The barbecue pros will turn in their entries at 2 p.m. for judging. Before that, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., fairgoers can judge the best for themselves during the People's Choice event.
For a $5 ticket (which is in addition to fair admission) the ticket-holder can sample the professionals' meat. Ticketholders will vote by dropping their tickets in a box representing the barbecue they deem best. Top ticketholder wins People's Choice.
Alford said that a handful of the amateurs may also sell their meat during that time. Those barbecue teams will set their own sales prices.
Alford said other than serving at the People's Choice table, the professionals usually don't sell their meat; however, there is an option that they can if they so desire. Those who do will also set their own sales prices.
A demolition derby at 8:30 p.m. followed by the music of Convertibull, Dexter Thomas Band and Timiethea Delaney will close out Saturday night.
Contests happen Sunday afternoon, along with music by Vincent Tan. The finals of the Boot Strut, open to females and their fancy footwear, will be held, and the winner walks away with a $250 pair of boots from A Dressy Affair. At 2 p.m., the lawnmower races take place for adults, followed by a Big Wheels race for children at 4 p.m.
Alford said that the Ruritans have made a permanent $3,000 investment in the fairgrounds, preparing them to accommodate the KCBS championship.
"We've had to put in electricity and water to host the event. We plan on enlarging the whole thing tremendously next year. People say if we do a good job this year and up the prize money, we'll easily have 100 teams next year," said Alford.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...