'The Answer for America': Hawkins' second annual county fair reflects farming, Christian roots

Jeff Bobo • Aug 17, 2018 at 12:03 PM

CHURCH HILL — The theme for the second annual Hawkins County Fair is “The Answer For America,” which is what organizers believe can be found in the county’s agricultural and Christian roots. 

This year’s fair, which is scheduled for Sept. 7-9 at Camp Hope near Church Hill, will have more animals, more exhibitions, more shows, more vendors and more God.

Doug Messer, who chairs the fair committee, told the Times News Thursday that organizers have almost run out of space for vendors and exhibitors at the 150 acre site.

How did the fair get started?

Camp Hope is a children’s summer camp operated by Hope Community Church (HCC) at 1069 Old Union Road in the New Canton community near Church Hill.

The summer camp was founded six years ago by HCC to host hundreds of disadvantaged children every year, providing a free, Christian-based summer camp experience.

Messer, HCC pastor, moved to Hawkins County with his wife 11 years ago from an area in North Carolina that had a popular county fair.

He’s had a dream of creating a Hawkins County Fair all these years, and last year that dream came true.

With a variety of live entertainment, farm and garden exhibits, food, and other family-oriented fun, the first fair was very well attended and highly praised.

The pressure of topping last year’s fair

But that’s old news, and now the pressure is on to make the second Hawkins County Fair even better.

“I want the Hawkins County Fair to continue to grow, and it be a main thing that happens every year — people talk about the Hawkins County Fair — and it truly be a reflection of Hawkins County,” Messer said Wednesday. “When the fair ended last year, I heard people say, this is something we should have done a long time ago. A county like Hawkins County, that has an agricultural base, that has the heritage that we have, needs something like this.”

Messer added, “Hawkins County is firmly planted in Christian roots, and so, when we have a fair, that’s a part of our fair too.”

Check out the Hawkins County Fair’s Facebook page. The daily event schedule is expected to be posted there sometime next week.

Messer admitted that a lot of the planning is still underway, but he says he works better under pressure, and undoubtedly there will be lot of last minute additions to the schedule announced shortly before the fair begins.

Here’s what we know now

The fair will be open on Friday and Saturday Sept. 7-8 from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.

After the fair closes at 7 p.m., the public will be invited to attend a Christian revival on the fairgrounds.

The fair concludes Sunday Sept. 9. There will be a church services on the fairgrounds beginning around 10:30 a.m. that morning which should end around 11:30 a.m., after which the fair will open and continue until 3 p.m.

There’s also going to be a wide variety of children’s inflatable bouncy attractions, as well as archery, a lot of animals and a lot of food.

Hawkins County’s largest (known) pig will also be in attendance. Rose tips the scale at over 700 pounds, and Messer challenges anyone with a larger pig to bring it to the fair to earn bragging rights.

Horse Whisperer Dr. Lew Sterrett

“Our main attraction this year, we have horse shows,” Messer said. “We have a guy coming form Oklahoma. His name is Lew Sterrett, and he’s the ultimate horse whisperer. In less than an hour, he’ll break a wild horse and be riding on it, and it won’t buck. He’s going to do demonstrations.”

Messer added, “And then we wanted to make sure we reflect Hawkins County. So we have lots of arts and crafts and clubs, and churches and civic groups, all going to be here, and they’re going to represent their companies and their crafts. Last year a big attraction was having Brian Dye here with his mule team giving wagon rides, and he’s going to be here again. The 4-H, the UT Extension Office is going to be here and have a chicken contest, and after the contest they’re going to be auctioning off chickens.”

A few examples of other attractions include beekeepers, saddle makers, fruit and vegetable displays, livestock displays, an antique tractor show, and the Army will have an exhibit.

There will also be live music, zipline rides, and a lot more food trucks than last year.

“Yesterday we had a meeting with our fair planning team, and they said, ‘We’re running out of space,” Messer said. “We’re filling up. This is people from out county coming to show different wares, crafts, things that they have. Reflections of this community.”

The Answer for America

He added, “Our theme is ‘The Answer for America.’ When you live in a county like Hawkins County, it’s something we can be proud of. It’s a community we can be proud of. Right here in this county with the churches and the influence we have, we do have the answer for America.”

There is still room for more exhibitors and vendors. Anyone interested in participating in the fair should call Messer at (423) 754-1963 or leave a message on the Hawkins County Fair’s Facebook page.