First annual Hawkins County Fair set for Sept. 8-9 at Camp Hope

Jeff Bobo • Updated Aug 14, 2017 at 12:10 PM


CHURCH HILL — Over the course of the year, there are many festivals in towns across Hawkins County, but next month there will be a festival for all of Hawkins County.

Hope Community Church is utilizing its 150-acre Camp Hope facilities near Church Hill to organize and host the first annual Hawkins County Fair Sept. 8-9.

Fair co-organizer Doug Messer said it will be “Charlotte’s Web to a T” with blue ribbons and livestock and all the traditional county fair attractions.

Camp Hope is a children’s summer camp on Old Union Road in the New Canton community.

It was founded five years ago by Hope Community Church, which has campuses in Surgoinsville, Allandale and Bulls Gap.

Messer, who pastors the Allandale church, moved to the area with his wife 10 years ago from a county in North Carolina that had a popular fair.

“When we moved here, I said, ‘Where’s the county fairgrounds?” Messer told the times-News Thursday. “Somebody said, ‘We don’t have one. We’ve never had one.’ I thought that’s something that would work really well here, and I think people in this area would really like that.”

Five years ago, the church founded Camp Hope, which hosts hundreds of children every year, providing a free, Christian-based summer camp.

But now that school has started and summer is almost over, church members and the community have latched onto Messer’s idea, and it has snowballed into a two-day event featuring everything one would expect from a county fair.

There will be livestock shows, gardening exhibitions, live music, a wide variety of demonstrations, food and, of course, plenty of blue ribbons.

“As we have built Camp Hope, there’s a lot of facility there,” Messer said. “It gets to be this time of year and camp is done because school stars back. To utilize the camp property more, we thought this year we thought what we would do is start the first annual Hawkins County Fair.”

He added, “We want it to be an agricultural fair. A family friendly environment. I’m sure we’re going to learn as we put it all together.”

As the idea for the fair began to spread, people began contacting the church wanting to participate.

So far organizers have attracted a horse show, a goat show, a cow show, a chicken show and a tractor show.

They will have live music nonstop for two days straight featuring local country, bluegrass and gospel groups as well as local cloggers.

Artists and artisans will be setting up booths to demonstrate their crafts and sell their wares.

There will be demonstrations such as a blacksmith beating raw iron, soap making, leather works, saw milling, organic farming, and a person with mules and a buckboard wagon will be giving rides.

Eustice Conway from the History Channel’s “Mountain Men” is scheduled to appear Saturday, and he will have a booth that provides information about his Turtle Island Preserve in Boone, N.C.

“This is a way also to share with people what Camp Hope is, and it has been a wonderful tool in this area for encouragement to families and different groups utilizing the property,” Messer said.

The fair will be open from 9 a.m until 9 p.m. both days. Many school groups are expected to be taking field trips to the fair on its second day.

The schedule of events and bands was being finalized last week and will be posted on the Hawkins County Fair Facebook page in the near future.