Opening weekend at the Tennessee State Fair will provide again this year an opportunity for fairgoers to taste the best of Tennessee, according to organizers.
This year, however, the special tasting event will include much more than a variety of locally brewed beers and ales.
Introduced at last year’s fair as a one-night event, the Taste of Tennessee was received with such success that organizers made the decision this year to extend the special exhibition to a whole weekend and to include far more examples of what the Volunteer State has to offer than just specially brewed styles of spirits.
According to Cary Ann Fuller, who heads the Taste of Tennessee for the state fair, this year’s event will host a Craft Brewers Fest on the first night (Sept. 5) hosted by Kay Bob’s Grill and Ale, and an Artisan Distillers Fest on the second night (Sept. 6).
She said the weekend extravaganza will also include a World Food Championship event as well as a Tenne-Flea Market, a Beard & Mustache competition and a TN Better Beer Garden.
Fuller said some 35 craft brewers from all across Tennessee will be offering more than 100 different beers for those attending on Friday, while on Saturday artisan distillers will provide a tasting of Tennessee Whiskey, gin, rum, rye, vodka and moonshine.
She said that the World Food Championship event is a multi-category live cooking competition designed to bring cooks and chefs from across the country looking to win cash prizes and qualification to compete in the World Food Championships.
The WFC is to premiere as a television series in July on the FYI network. The event at the state fair will be taped and shown as a part of the television programming next year.
She said the Tenne-Flea Market will provide an opportunity for fairgoers to purchase a variety of handmade goods and artisan products and designs from Tennessee vendors.
“This, no doubt, will be an amazing opening weekend for the state fair and provide for those attending a wide variety of must-see and must-taste opportunities,” Fuller said.
The cost of admission to each tasting event, which opens each night at 6 p.m., includes admission to the state fair, a souvenir tasting glass, and unlimited samples for the duration of the event. Admission for designated drivers will be available and will include complimentary non-alcoholic drinks.
The festival will only be open to people age 21 and over. General admission tickets for each event are $45, and special SIP tickets are available for $65. SIP tickets allow guests to enter one hour earlier than the public with the opportunity to sample special offerings while visiting with the makers.
Admission to the Tenne-Flea Market, beard and mustache competition, and World Food Competition event on Saturday is free with an admission ticket to the state fair. Gates for these events open at 10 am.
On Sunday, the Taste of Tennessee continues with a special VIP ticket to the Sunday state fair race and the opportunity to sample more state-made products.
Fuller said there will also be a homebrew competition this year for those who believe they have the best recipes and best brewing methods and want to compete for statewide honors.
She said the fair is now accepting entries for the homebrew competition, explaining that Tennessee homebrewers have the chance to compete in this first statewide competition for the chance to win Tennessee’s Best of Show.
According to Fuller, prizes will be awarded to each of 28 categories in this BJCP sanctioned contest. Online entries must be received by Friday, July 18, to be eligible for judging.
“No other festival gives you all that Tennessee has to offer in one venue,” Fuller said.
Tickets for events go on sale July 25. For more information about these events and the Tennessee State Fair visit http://tnstatefair.org/tasteoftn/.