East Tennesseans Remember 1982 World's Fair

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - The downtown Fourth of July celebration is also a commemoration of the summer the world came to Knoxville -- the 25th anniversary of the World's Fair.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd looks at the legacy of the fair through the eyes of some who were there.

"A lot of people said it wouldn't be possible, but it was," Rockwood native Wayne Kirby said.

Have our memories grown scratchy and faded? Has it really been, a quarter century--since a World's Fair?

"Made Knoxville realize that we weren't a scruffy little city," said Karen Treadway, who moved to Knoxville in 1982.

Scruffy couldn't have culture of Korea or unlocked the mysteries of mainland China.

"I was all excited about it and had a season ticket. Came out about ten times," Kirby said.

Eleven million visits or visitors feeding their hunger or finding Hungary and the land Down Under.
SOT William Brown

"It, of course, was all around campus, couldn't avoid it,
couldn't park anywhere," said William Brown, who was a UT student at the time.

The food offerings at World's Fair Park during Wednesday's celebration are more traditional Tennessee carnival than world-wise, but:

"We got a lot of restaurants out of it. We got a lot of publicity and a lot of really positive things for Knoxville," season pass holder Ronald Clevenger said.

Almost as if we'd hitched ourselves to a rocket? Everybody, anybody, points to the Sunsphere a a symbol of all the fair as brought, but maybe a beacon of what might have been.

"I think it could have really been kept up and made a showcase," Brown said.

"The site here could have been used a lot quicker and in a more positive manner," Clevenger said.

"I'd like to see the Amphitheater restored. I think it's going to be," Kirby said.

To pack 'em in, once again. For more than a night of fireworks, or a commemorative T-shirt, and a lot of their parents, and grandparents, the fair helped them buy into a dream.

"It broadened horizons. Made it think a little more globally than East Tennessee, that was the best thing," Brown said.

By the way, the Sunsphere's fourth floor observation deck officially re-opens July fifth.


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