September in Knoxville means it's time for the annual Tennessee Valley Fair! We set aside a Sunday to spend some family time at the fair and we couldn't have picked a more gorgeous day with temperatures in the low 70's, sapphire blue skies and big puffy clouds. Let me take you on a photo tour of everything we saw and did. The fair is still going on from now until the end of the weekend, so if you're one of my local readers you've still got time to check it out!
We arrived and were pleasantly surprised to find that the parking was well-organized and painless, so before we knew it we were inside of the gates and ready to have some fun.
We started off by cruising around all of the game booths. It seemed like every other one was sporting these monstrous stuffed minions. I love minions, but I'm pretty sure this would scare the crap out of Jasper if it was in our house.
Gigantic stuffed cupcakes and, oh my goodness, is that Gizmo? Loved seeing that Gremlins is still getting some time in the spotlight after all these years.
Yes, those are giant E.T.'s!
What is it about massive stuffed animals that turn me into a kid again? I. Want. All. Of. Them.
Next, we can't forget everyone's favorite game... Choose Your Own Breed Of Heart Attack! There's absolutely nothing redeemable about fair food - it's every health nut's nightmare. Seriously, just look at all of this:
There's fried chicken (wings! tenders! on a stick!) deep-fried corn dogs, and French fries loaded with chili and cheese...
And for dessert, deep-fried friggin' everything! Choose from funnel cakes, elephant ears, fried Milky Way, fried Snickers, or fried Oreos. Oh, and everything is coated with extra powdered sugar, just in case you were worried that things were getting too healthy.
But wait, there's more! Caramel apples, cheese cake, chocolate-covered strawberries, sausage, burgers, hot dogs, and of course some sweet tea to wash it all down.
Did you think we were finished? How about some bacon? Like, all the bacon. Bacon-wrapped chicken, bacon corn dogs, chocolate-covered bacon (I'm not kidding), bacon corn dogs, or for the purists, bacon on a stick.
It goes without saying that there is pizza - get it by the slice or order up a calzone or stromboli.
And for a light mid-afternoon snack, how about a huge bag of neon-colored cotton candy, kettle corn, a sno cone, or another candy apple (maybe try it covered in nuts or chocolate this time, you rebel you).
In fact, this right here is probably the healthiest thing we saw. This row of smoking proteins smelled absolutely heavenly as we strolled by the hot grills.
Basically, if it can be deep-fried, you can find it at the Tennessee Valley Fair. More than likely, you can also find it on a stick.
We knew we wanted to get into the spirit of things and indulge in a little nutritional debauchery, so we started our lunch by sharing some loaded chili cheese fries. I have to be honest, though, they were pretty disappointing. The main problem was that everything was stone cold. It was pretty off-putting so we only ate a few bites.
We also shared a Philly cheesesteak sandwich that was a bit better. The meat was tender and warm, but the bread was cold and leeched the heat out of of the filling quickly.
Because it's become an ongoing thing for me to blog about all of the Limited Edition Oreo flavors that are released, it seemed only right that we try a deep-fried Oreo. I had to do it for the good of the blog.
That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.
The menu listed it as "Deep-fried Oreo" and knowing fair food is typically a bit pricey anyway, we thought it'd be one Oreo that we could share. We were shocked when we were given a container with not one but SIX fried Oreos! Geez. Yeah, most of these went home with us.
I don't know who decided to dip an Oreo in batter and throw it into a vat of hot oil, but I'm so glad they did. The batter was chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside and the Oreo was soft, warm, and ooey gooey... kind of like what happens to the texture when you let it sit in a glass of milk for a few minutes.
Once you're full of deep-fried fair food the only logical thing to do is to hop on some whirly-twirly rides, right? All of the classic fair favorites are in attendance, like this colorful ferris wheel.
Yeah, bet you're regretting that double-batter-deep-fried-dipped-in-chocolate-pizza-burger right about now.
Space rollers and Tilt 'a Whirls and Pirate Ships, oh my!
The Kiddie Land area has smaller rides more appropriate for younger fair goers.
Gotta have the fun houses!
These bumper boats are so cute.
If the ferris wheel is a bit too tame for you, give the Ring of Fire a try.
It was a gorgeous day to be outside.
Jasper was a little fussy early in the day but after a long nap on daddy in the Ergo carrier, he was all smiles.
I won a tiger for him at the balloon popping game!
My lil' sidekick.
The Jacob Building is the interior exhibit which is where you can find entries for the photography competition, giant growing and horticulture contest, cake and cupcake decorating, student art exhibitions, local honey, demonstrations on the culinary arts stage, and a few booths selling various items.
I especially loved all of the student exhibits on the second level. It's so awesome to see so much talent coming from such young people.
Good grief, that statement makes me sound so old. When did I get old? How do I make it stop?
It wouldn't be a southern fair without a lil' farm life! Jasper went nuts over all of the roosters and hens. There was so much clucking and cock-a-doodle-doo-ing going on and he loved all of the noise.
Had to check out the petting zoo tent as well. This camel was upset with me because I did not have a sugar cone full of food for him.
These two were also not impressed by my lack of food.
How cute is this little guy?
In addition to everything I've shown here, there's also lots of other stuff going on - scavenger hunts, circus shows, antique tractors and engines, comedy, juggling, magic, hypnotism, a pet show, and fantastic live music every night.
We were provided free passes to the fair for photo coverage and to share the details of all of the fun things you can do!