House members on Tennessee's Capitol Hill took a major step today concerning the future of the Tennessee State Fair.
Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill 88-2 that would essentially give a new state commission control of the State Fair's future, if there's no further State Fairs at the current site off Nolensville Road.
“This bill is simply a fall back, and it's going to ensure that this 107 year old tradition of having a state fair in Tennessee continues,” said sponsor Rick Womick of Rutherford County.
The fairgrounds issue has been a hot button one for Nashville as Mayor Karl Dean fought to move some of the events on the fairgrounds property to another part of the county, so that its lucrative property near downtown could be redeveloped reaping property tax dollars, but Nashville voters overwhelming said no to that last year in a city wide vote.
It kept the fairgrounds from demolition, but everything else uncertain for State Fair supporters like Metro Councilman Duane Dominy.
“I would love for it to stay on this site, its part of the character and the heritage of this community,” he said.
With the future of the state fair uncertain in Nashville, there is no shortage of people on Capitol Hill who would welcome it in their counties.
“I would like to see it wherever it's welcome, I think that is the issue,” Rep. Joe Carr told Nashville's News 2
He said he believes the Tennessee State Fair could be boon in Wilson County which already has a huge local fair.
Williamson County lawmaker Charles Sargent said his local fairgrounds south of Franklin along Interstate 65 “would be a great place for the state fair.”
According to Nashville lawmaker Mike Turner, the bill was “brought to lawmakers by the Farm Bureau lobby and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.”
“It's not some conspiracy,” he said on the House floor, a reference to Mayor Dean's previous redevelopment plans.
Councilman Dominy thinks state lawmakers should wait to see if Metro government addresses the fairgrounds in its master development plan due later this year.
The fair commission bill goes before the Senate Thursday.