Knoxville Celebrates the World's Fair's Anniversary

By: Whitney Daniel
By: Whitney Daniel

Knoxville (WVLT) - Millions have memories of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, even if some of us were pretty young at the time...

Whitney Daniel joins us with details about another exciting World's Fair celebration.

Knoxville will be celebrating throughout the summer with an international festival, displays from the fair, like the giant Rubik's Cube from the Hungarian pavilion, music, dancing and reminiscing.

But one thing city leaders want to point out throughout the 25th anniversary celebration is how important the fair's role is in shaping Knoxville into what it's become today.

It stands proud above Knoxville's skyline. An icon representing a time that turned a "scruffy little city" into a gateway to the world.

"It was a fun time to be here and we wanna celebrate that again," mayor Bill Haslam said.

Now the Sunsphere towers over World's Fair Park reminding the city of how far it's come over the past 25 years.

"We're continuing to build off the momentum and really increase that today," Haslam said.

Efforts to renovate the Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater are underway, but the fair brought a newness to Knoxville that has helped shape the city's infrastructure.

"We got all this construction going on downtown, all the lofts and stuff being built," said Shawn Roberts from Knoxville.

Crews fixed "malfunction junction" and new hotels popped up throughout town to help accommodate the fair's expected visitors.

Today, through music, folks relive the excitement of 1982 and will continue to celebrate throughout the summer with an International Fair on the Fourth of July. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will perform music from the 80's era.

"Taking some of the music that was popular at the time, some of the good some of the bad, and spinning it into our patriotic celebration for July Fourth," Maestro Lucas Richmond from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra said.

As for the future?

"People keep saying, 'What are you gonna do with the World's Fair site?', well here's what we're going to do. We're going to live in it!" Haslam said.

Concerts, frisbee, fountains - it's become an area used almost daily.

"We absolutely love the Worlds Fair Park. We come out here a lot during the summer time," Roberts said.

Knoxville remembers the excitement and the memories live on 25 years later.

"It left a legacy of joy for a lot of people and even if most of the places that were here then only exist in our hearts and memories now. It's a special time," Haslam said.

Certainly a lot of memories. It's neat to hear people talk about all the excitement. Makes you feel like you were there, even if you weren't.


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