published Sunday, September 29th, 2013

COWS AND CORN DOGS: Crowds pack grounds at Hamilton County Fair

Eight-year-old Sage Wingo straightens the forelock of Rowdy, a miniature horse, at Chester Frost Park, the location of the Hamilton County Fair. Organizers have packed the park with entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, food, a special children’s area, a petting zoo and antique vehicles. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Sunday.
Eight-year-old Sage Wingo straightens the forelock of Rowdy, a miniature horse, at Chester Frost Park, the location of the Hamilton County Fair. Organizers have packed the park with entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, food, a special children’s area, a petting zoo and antique vehicles. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Sunday.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

IF YOU GO

What: Hamilton County Fair at Chester Frost Park

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Getting there: Catch a shuttle at Northgate Mall or Middle Valley Recreation Center. Fare of $6 for adults, $4 for children 3-12 includes fair admission.

This was the scene Saturday at Chester Frost Park, where thousands attended the annual Hamilton County Fair.

Along food row, the smell of deep-fried almost anything: Oreos, blooming onions, funnel cakes and foot-long corn dogs. A haze of smoke from the grills hung around, rich with the aroma of barbecue, burgers, brats and chicken.

Nearby, DeAndre Williams, 2, negotiated his corn dog into a dipping cup of mustard then to his mouth, leaving a few crumbs and mustard streaks behind.

He was there with his mother, Shianne, his grandmother, Michelle Levi, and his great-grandmother, Evelyn Williams, among other family members.

They spent a lot of time in the Children's Arena, where kids laughed and kids cried.

Kids in sacks raced to the finish line. Kids tossed balloons and tried to be the last standing. Kids tried to outdo each other in an ice cream-eating contest.

Over the whole area, a raspy chorus of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" played from the Dallas Island Stage, where Chattanooga singer/songwriter Roger Alan Wade shared mic time with his grandson, Roland Dixon.

On the street in front of Wade and Dixon, shoppers perused a wide selection of craft items, from dresses to toboggans and hand-carved wooden items, like a dragonfly or a horse. Crafters offered woodcarving classes, and bystanders watched new items form in the hands of woodworkers.

Paired with the flawless weather, the fair was intriguing enough to draw even nonregulars out.

Nick Fay, 26, and Zandi Richey, 25, sipped on a couple of iced Cokes and went for deep-fried Oreos. The two are Chattanooga natives, but haven't made the fair recently. They only made it Saturday because a family event had them already off work. Richey had never been before Saturday.

"I always seem to miss it," she said.

"I haven't been in years, and she's never been, so I thought it would be a cool thing to do today," Fay said. He was last at the fair five years ago with his family.

And about those deep-fried Oreos they bought: "America," Fay said. "We deep-fry anything."

But what makes the fair more than just a two-day carnival is the animals, said Patrick Tyree, a Harrison-based farmer and traveling vet. He showcased some of his livestock at the agricultural exhibit.

Eliza is Tyree's 1,500-pound Angus cow. She is 2. and her 28-day-old calf, Barrett September Rain -- or "Barretta" -- lay nearby. Tyree's daughters Jessica and Lydia hung out in the stall with him Saturday afternoon.

Tyree said he gets a thrill from seeing both young and old spectators at the fair.

"It does your heart good," he said, to see kids light up when they see the cows for the first time. Tyree loved "AgVenture Day," which was Friday. Inner-city students were taken to the park to see, smell and touch the farm animals, many for the first time.

He loves to hear "the old timers" come by and talk about the days when they had to take care of family farms.

"Really, we're so far separated from agriculture in our society," he said.

Except on fair weekend.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

about Alex Green...

Alex joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 as a region business reporter. He is a native of Dayton, Tenn., located 35 miles north of Chattanooga, and he is a fifth-generation Dayton native. Alex came to the Times Free Press as an editorial intern in July 2013. He was previously a correspondent at The Herald-News, located in Dayton, through college and editor-in-chief of the Triangle, Bryan College's student-led media group. Alex was ...

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