City to Celebrate Fair Anniversary

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email

City to Celebrate Fair Anniversary

Posted: 05/01/2007
Amid the sights of fireworks and deely boppers and the sound of an Oompah band, Mayor Bill Haslam today announced the City of Knoxville's plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair. Standing where the Waters of the World once flowed through the 72-acre fair site Haslam said Knoxville would commemorate the Fair on July 4th at World's Fair Park.

"Twenty-five years ago Knoxville invited the entire world to come to a six-month-long party," Haslam said Tuesday, "and by the time is was over quite a few people showed up for it. It was a great time for Knoxville, a lot of folks have wonderful memories of those days and we wanted to celebrate that."

The announcement came 25 years to the day that the 1982 World's Fair opened on a Saturday, welcoming President Ronald Reagan and more than 85,000 guests. By the time it closed six months later, on the last day in October, more than 11 million visitors had poured through the gates.The July 4th celebration will include an international festival featuring food and entertainment; the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra performing songs of the '80s and the World's Fair; and an exhibit of World's Fair memorabilia by the East Tennessee Historical Society.

The exhibit, "When the World Came to Knoxville 25 Years Ago," will be at the East Tennessee History Center downtown and will run from May 29 until Sept. 9. The center will display a separate exhibit of memorabilia at World's Fair Park on July 4th.

The World's Fair Celebration will be held in conjunction with the city's annual Festival on the Fourth, which is also held in World's Fair Park. "People were already coming for the Festival on the Fourth so this seemed like a good time to do it," Haslam said.

The event will also feature the return of the restored Rubik's Cube to the Fair site where it once graced the Hungarian Pavilion. The East Tennessee Historical Society is repairing the giant replica of the puzzle, which was a wildly popular toy at the time of the World's Fair.

The Rubik's Cube is one of the few surviving icons from the Fair. The Fair was built on what had been a railroad yard and a rundown area bordering on the University of Tennessee and Fort Sanders. Other surviving structures include The Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater, both of which are being renovated by the city. The Foundry, an old 19th century factory that became the popular Strohaus during the World's Fair, also remains at the site.

The more than 20 international pavilions, including the Chinese, United States and Australian Pavilions are long gone. Today World's Fair Park is just that, a city park that is home to numerous events and shows. But Haslam said the Fair brought the world to Knoxville - and Knoxville to the world - for six months that year and both enjoyed and benefited from the exposure. "It left a legacy of joy for a lot of people," he said, "even if most of the places that were here then only exist in their hearts now."

The July 4th event will begin at 2 p.m. rather than the usual 4 p.m. starting time for the Festival on the Fourth.