Fair for all

This Townsend country fair deserves a blue ribbon

Taking home top honors for Best Pie in the Cove in 2007 was Holly McCampbell, shown with her husband, Will, and children. Holly won for her apple pie.

Taking home top honors for Best Pie in the Cove in 2007 was Holly McCampbell, shown with her husband, Will, and children. Holly won for her apple pie.

Bob Presley gives Bryce Langford of Knoxville some tips as he competes in the watermelon seed spitting contest at last year’s Blue Ribbon Country Fair at the Heritage Center.

Bob Presley gives Bryce Langford of Knoxville some tips as he competes in the watermelon seed spitting contest at last year’s Blue Ribbon Country Fair at the Heritage Center.

When people think about going to the fair, they think midway games, corn dogs and parking a mile away. At the Blue Ribbon Country Fair at the Heritage Center, visitors can play pioneer games, enter the rooster crowing contest, taste homemade ice cream, listen to live music and park for free.

“This is a great family event,” said Nancy Williams, marketing director for the Heritage Center in Townsend.

This is the second year for the Blue Ribbon Fair. Williams says that in its inaugural year in 2007, it achieved the status of being the largest event for the Heritage Center.

It’s low-tech fun with all the competitions of those county fairs from yesterday. Blount County residents will compete in six categories -- baked goods, canned goods, fresh vegetables, poultry, honey and metal and woodworking projects. With the exception of the last which is just for high school students, competitions are classed for adults and young people. The winners in each competition will receive ribbons and small monetary prizes for first, second and third place.

The baked goods category is open to all ages, and the judges will decide on who has baked the best blackberry, peach and cherry cobbler in addition to unfrosted pound cake and stacked cake. The competition for the Best Pie in the Cove is divided into amateur and professional entries.

Holly McCampbell was last year’s winner for Best Pie in the Cove and nobody was more surprised than she was. McCampbell, a stay-at-home-mom, entered her apple pie at the urging of her husband who has always enjoyed her apple pie. Last year, the evening prior to the deadline day for the pie entries, McCampbell used her mother’s apple pie recipe, which she made countless times in the past. She wasn’t pleased with the results.

“It tasted fine, but it didn’t look very pretty,” McCampbell said. She told her husband she couldn’t enter the contest.

The next afternoon, he called her from work and insisted she try again. With her 2-year-old son on her hip and her 4-year-old daughter hanging on her leg, she tried the apple pie recipe again, pulled it out of the oven and got it to the judges just in time.

“It was a very big surprise when I won, because I never won a contest before,”

McCampbell shared her secret to a good apple pie. The former school teacher said she uses Jonathan apples, and she also chills the ingredients and utensils before she uses them.

The Blue Ribbon Country Fair is on Saturday at the Heritage Center in Townsend. Admission is $3 and children under 6-years-old are free. Parking at the center is also free. A shuttle will run from the Townsend Visitors Center -- where the Heritage Festival and Old Timers’ Day is taking place -- to the Heritage Center.

Visitors to the fair can see demonstrations of authentic mountain heritage activities such as spinning and weaving, open heart cooking and pioneer games. Visitors can also participate in contests such as watermelon seed spitting, rooster crowing and the decorative hat contest.

“This event would not happen without the wonderful volunteers and sponsors,” Williams said.

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