SINCE 1857, the Coffee County Fair has been a staple of Middle Tennessee life. Now in its 165th year, there are tractor pulls, carnival rides, beauty pageants, and competitions in everything from livestock to arts and crafts.
“The fair is organized and run completely by volunteers, with a board that sometimes stays past midnight to work,” said board member Katie Kusisto. “Volunteers also work in the exhibit building and during the fair, as well as set up and take down.”
“I do it for the community,” fair board President Stewart Little said. “For the kids and the community to be able to have a fair to go to… for people to understand, you know, what feeds America is our agriculture.”
Kusisto said that in the next few years, five fairs across Tennessee are expected to close their doors. “Despite being one of the oldest fairs in Tennessee, the Coffee County Fair is still going strong. Most of that strength comes from hard volunteer hours,” Little said.
“We’ve always had a good foundation as an old fair,” Little said. “The foundation was started a long time ago, and that’s what we’re still standing on today.”
“The fair provides a time to see people and to relax,” said Kusisto. “It also supports local agriculture and local fundraisers. This year the high school softball, baseball, and football teams have food booths to support their organizations.”
The 2022 Coffee County Fair’s slogan is “Remembering 165 Years of Yesterdays, Embracing Visions of Tomorrow.” Kusisto said that seeing that future is one of her favorite pieces of the fair. Included in that, are special days for veterans, first responders, seniors, and children.
“What’s really nice about the fair, too, is you get to see the future of our community,” Kusisto said. “You have your kids that come, [your] school, your youth day on Friday. You get to see, really, our future right here at the tip of our hands.”
“There is always a need for more volunteers,” said Kusisto, “because there are always items that still need to be done – and new volunteers bring new, fresh ideas. The community’s support of the fair is what keeps it running year after year.”
“If we don’t have volunteers for things like the fair or other nonprofit organizations within the community… we have nothing,” Kusisto said. “Without the community’s support and the volunteers, you have no fair.” GN