The Rhea County Fair: A Recap

Over the past week or so, we’ve spent a significant amount of time at the Rhea County Fair.

When I was growing up in Memphis, we attended the Mid-South Fair every year.

While we visited the cow barns and produce areas, we really went for the rides and, need I say it? The FOOD! Roasted corn, turkey legs, Pronto Pups, gyros, elephant ears, funnel cakes, and frozen bananas are just a few of the goodies we “sampled”. And the concerts? You name it, they have it.

Later, sometime after we had moved to San Diego, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the San Diego County Fair, complete with the livestock and produce and rides but, more importantly, FOOD! Deep fried avocados and Krispy Kreme chicken sandwiches top the list.

To say that I love the fair is the understatement of the century.  I have been known to eat at the fair while on an hour-long lunch break from work! For this reason, when I learned about the Rhea County Fair, I became very excited, and the Diva was nearly uncontainable.  We got the fair schedule and mapped out all that we wanted to do.

The local fair is, how shall I say this, significantly smaller than any fair to which I have ever been. However, choosing joy, here are the highlights.

The Top Ten Best Things About the Rhea County Fair:

10. Funnel cakes. Duh

9. Rodeo. Natch.

8.  Inflatable land. The Diva loves jumpies, or whatever you call them.

7.  Deep fried lard. Big Daddy ate it. I puked.

6.  Tractors. Old, vintage, restored tractors. And they put on a parade. My Pappaw would have loved it!

5. Horses! The Diva fell in love with Millie and Marty, and their owners gave us their phone numbers and said she could come on over to their house and ride them. Because we live in the country, and that’s the kind of people that live in the country. Nice people. We’ll be riding horses soon. I’ll report back here.

4.  Lawnmower races sponsored by the East Tennessee Lawnmower Racing Association. Yes, there is such a thing. Yes, it’s a big deal. Yes, there’s a national association and yes, their website is They’re too legit to quit.

Grown men racing lawnmowers around a hay-bale ring.  Shoot me now.

3.  Exhibits: quilting, canning, photography, etc. I’m entering my strawberry jam next year. I’ll tell you that.

2. The sheep show: as it turns out, if a sheep won’t cooperate, the solution is to put your hand in the bad place. Big Daddy says…oh, never mind what he says, but I’ll tell you it has something to do with when I won’t cooperate.

And the number 1 thing about the Rhea County Fair (drumroll, please)…..

The Patty Drop!

For those of you not in the know, this is an event for which the participants (that’s you and me) purchase a ticket. Each ticket’s number corresponds to a numbered square on a grid that’s been spray painted on the ground inside a corral.  Also inside the corral is Ben, a 2-ton bull ox whose shoulders are up over Big Daddy’s head. Ben walks around the corral while the participants wait with baited breath along the outer fence for Ben to do the unthinkable.

You guessed it! When Ben makes an, um, drop in the grid, if he’s done his business in your square, you’re the winner!

For those of you who are nervous about dealing with Big Ben, there’s also a chicken version called the Chicken Squat.

Real life’s better than fiction,


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