State may take over control of fair - WSMV Channel 4

State may take over control of fair

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There's a major change in the works for the Tennessee State Fair - a change that could mean the end of its century-old history at the Nashville Fairgrounds.

Some state lawmakers say it's time for state government to take over the fair to keep the tradition alive.

Sen. Joe Haynes is supporting a bill written by the Tennessee Farm Bureau that would give control of the state fair to a commission whose members are appointed by the governor. The commission would become part of the state's Department of Agriculture.

Currently, the state fair is controlled by a Metro board whose members are appointed by Mayor Karl Dean. Dean has indicated for several years he believes the fairgrounds land could be better used for economic development.

Haynes says he wants to ensure the state fair survives.

"We're setting up a commission to handle the state fair, it's just that simple," Haynes says.

The bill does not require that the annual state fair be held in Nashville, although Haynes says that is his preference.  

Since the city owns the land where the state fair has been held for decades, it's assumed that the state would have to buy or lease the fairgrounds land from the city if it wants to continue to hold the state fair there.

"I don't know whether the fairgrounds as it is now will continue to be available. I hope that it is. I hope that we can modernize that and make it work.  If it can't be, then we will have to find another location," Haynes says.

State Rep. Jim Gotto has introduced an amendment that requires the state fair to be held in Davidson County.

"I'm going to try to amend the bill to say it would stay in Davidson County. I don't know if I will be successful with that or not," he says.

Haynes' bill will be debated in the state and local government committee in room 12 of Legislative Plaza on Tuesday morning at 9.

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