May 1, 2013

1982 World's Fair Opens in Knoxville

On this day in history, the 1982 World's Fair kicked off in my lovely town of Knoxville, Tennessee. I was just a wee babe at the time, but my parents bundled me up and carted me to the event. I wish I had at least some memory of it. But the glowing orb of the Sunsphere stands as a reminder of what once was. And no, it's not full of wigs.

Since we don't really have World's Fairs anymore, it's hard for younger folks to imagine what a grand event this was, but basically the eyes of the world were turned onto Knoxville. President Ronald Reagan was even part of the opening ceremony, which was broadcast on local and regional television. Other famous folks in attendance opening day? Why Dinah Shore of course and Porter Wagoner and Ricky Skaggs.

More than 11 million people attended during the World's Fair (from May 1 to Oct. 31, 1982), but it wasn't the moneymaker Knoxville civic leaders were hoping for. Knoxville ended up being saddled with a $46 million debt...yikes!

But I know lots of folks have wonderful memories of attending the fair, including my bff who was a World's Fair regular. There's a sweet nostalgia to an event like this that brings a community together. I hope in our age of technology and electronic everything we haven't lost that.