Friday, March 25, 2011

Where Do I Go to Sign the "Burn the Fairgrounds" Petition?

South Nashville must be full of idiots. Except me, of course. And Stoker.

There's a lot to love in the area. I'm not kidding, though it may be difficult from time to time to see, because, well, there are A LOT of used tire shops in the area. Some of them in former banks, which is very architecturally incongruent when you can see the tires piled to the ceiling beyond the beautiful glass store front and the columns lining the sidewalk. But hey. You can't lose with architectural columns.

As well, there's no shortage of used car lots ("BUY HERE, PAY HERE!!!!!" "WORLD'S FIRST DRIVE THRU USED CAR LOT!!!!"). And there are plenty of title loan stores and instant cash places. And pawn shops. Plenty.

Beyond these questionable aspects are the cool things. Like the FIRST EVER Krispy Kreme donut shop. Some might want to firebomb the place for having turned donut-making into a Henry Ford assembly line, thus ruining the art of the donut. Not me. Of course...others.

But since we're on the subject, I prefer REAL donuts, like those you can get at The Donut Den in the Green Hills area of Nashville (aka, the RICH AREA). Once in a while a Krispy Kreme donut is OK. Like when they're right off the assembly line. They have that new car smell.

Anyway, there's also La Hacienda, which serves the BEST Mexican food in Nashville. I'm not lying. There's a tortilla factory out back too. I've written about this stuff before, I think, so I'll spare you.

In any case, there's a lot to love. And lots of people are saying (or were saying, anyway) that this area was gentrifying. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I'll tell you one thing that's really not helping.

The idiots who want to "save our fairgrounds."


Let me get this straight. These people would choose to KEEP a pile of crap Pinto rather than trade it in for a Mercedes? Essentially that's what they're saying.

You know what MIGHT happen if we got rid of those stupid fairgrounds? That piece o' shee (to quote my sister) tire recapping shop, whose lot looks like a biohazard (I swear sometimes I think, "I'm seriously going to call OSHA." I don't even know if OSHA cares about stuff like that, but this Dumpster looks like a nuclear waste site at the end of the day, every day), might actually GET LOST because it sucks so bad, and without the lame race track at the fairgrounds, I'm pretty sure the dude who runs the shop will want to move it closer they need a tire recapping shop.

And if we got rid of the nasty fairgrounds, perhaps then some PRODUCTIVE businesses might decide to move in. And maybe property values would increase. Yeah, I know that would increase property taxes, but at least south Nashville wouldn't look like Germany after WWII, for once.

Honestly, I don't know what it is about the fairgrounds that this part of the city would resist the change. It would be an upgrade.

Is the flea-market seriously THAT important to the economy of South Nashville? Is it? Because, you know, the flea-market wouldn't have to die should the fairgrounds disappear. If the flea-market is so necessary and important and beloved, it will survive. It might have to move, but it would survive.

Same with the teeny-bopper races or derby or whatever it is that sounds like a swarm of bees during summer nights.

And, Tennessee, I hate to tell you, but the state fair is kind of crappy. One would think that a state with such a long history (in terms of U.S. history) and so much agriculture would have one of the largest, most kick-butt state fairs in the Union. It should be as wicked-awesome as a musical, like State Fair (that musical has an awesome state fair in it, doesn't it? I've never actually seen it. But with a name like State Fair.....), with people driving all the way from Knoxville just to get a look at the best pig in show. And all that. You would think!

But no. I went to the state fair last year and it was the most dismal affair ever. It was weak. If it was going to wrestle (Greco-Roman style), it would be in the lightest weight class. Like 110, if that. I know. That's like junior high weight. That's how pitiful the Tennessee State Fair is compared to other state fairs.

What fairs am I comparing it to? Well.

I'm from Utah, as you've probably noticed. When I have gone to the state fair in Utah, there was so much to see and do that I couldn't get to all of it in one night. The Tennessee State Fair? Yeah, it took me a half-hour, if that, to see what there was to offer.

Unfortunately, this map doesn't show topographical changes. If it did, you'd just stay home. It does, however, show how small the event is. The gray stuff is parking.

Plus, it's on a dang hill. Several rolling hills, really. So you walk up a huge hill to the two ticket booths (that's all they need--two ticket booths), pay, and walk up more hill, to the six rides. Then you walk past those to the tiny building where canned things are and the displays about honey and whatnot. There's also a little building for the kitschy, fun things, but there are only like five booths there. Beyond that is a children's play-house size building for the farm animal things. Next door to that there are three rides for the kiddies.

I exaggerate. But only by a fraction. It feels more like a tiny county fair. It really is the smallest state fair in the world. I bet Rhode Island has a bigger state fair.

So, you might be thinking, well heck, what about the gun shows? Yeah, what about them? I've gone to the gun show at the fairground twice and both times it was crap. The actual gun show could be hosted in a banquet hall. I'm sure there's a better venue for the gun show. And, if it's so economically fantastic for gun shop owners, it won't die. It will just move. That's how these things work.

Saving a tired, worn out, ugly site for the mere sake of saving it stunts changes that could be much better for the city and its residents economically. Especially when you consider what a large swath of land the fairground consume just by its mere existence. And for the larger part of the year, that land sits there empty, looking like an eye-sore.

I don't really understand why many of the residents around the fairgrounds are so eager to "save" it. I can only guess. And my guess is that they lack vision.

I wish I could go talk to Karl Dean and tell him, "Don't give up, man. Rip those hideous fairgrounds out and put in a park, a shopping center, ANYTHING. Anything would be better."

Maybe if they can move the state fair to a better location (read, not on a couple of mucky hills), the fair can improve. And compete with the awesome Utah State Fair*.

And finally, to demonstrate the stunted thinking of people around Nashville, I refer you to this site that features this quote:

How do I feel personally about the closing of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds? Well, if you don't already know by now, I think it stinks. This wonderful ole place, one that has given Nashvillians so many great memories, family fun, and plenty of racing history is about to be wiped away in the name of progress. To me, progress would be to improve on the existing property in a way that would also preserve its historical value as well as incorporate and blend with the local neighborhood.
I would wager that Jan Duke doesn't live in south Nashville, near the fairgrounds. Though I might be surprised, since there are plenty of backward thinking fools in the neighborhood sporting "save our fairgrounds" signs. Anyway, it's nice of Jan to give us her opinion. Maybe she can come live next to the fairgrounds, if she doesn't already, so she can reap all the blessings of the important racing history, with all its joyful sounds.

p.s. The "local neighborhood" has largely been stunted by the presence of the fairgrounds. So, in addition to the few homes in the area, there's the Coke bottling plant, several industrial type complexes, dismal and run-down looking liquor stores, a plot of land that seems to store rail-cars, and a mobile home park (that was wiped out during the flooding last year). So, yeah, let's BLEND the fairgrounds with the neighborhood. Real great idea, Jan.

*Lest you think I'm simply full of home-state pride, my friend from Kentucky said the Kentucky State Fair is also a million times better than the TN State Fair.


South Nashville Life said...

Don't lose hope! There are many people living next to the fairgrounds who would like to see it put to better use.

Check out

and my blog:

To read my rants about the fairgrounds, just go to "The Fairgrounds" label on the right side of the site.

How the hell all of those car lots have stayed open for so long with all that competition in the same area is beyond me. It will likely take a lot of time, but I think we'll see quite a few improvements to the whole area over the next few years.

Anonymous said...

Ma'am, I actually did live in South Nashville for numerous years. I'm truly sorry that you feel that my thinking is somewhat stunted but you, of course, are entitled to your own opinion... even if it is about someone you have never met. - Jan Duke

Nicole Grotepas said...

South Nashville Life--I'm really glad to hear there are others who would like to see the land put to better use. It's disheartening to only see calls to arms in favor of keeping the fairgrounds. There's not a lot of signage around the area in support of Karl Dean's efforts.

And I agree with you about the used car lots. It's pretty hilarious when I see a new one opening up. It makes me wonder what the city-planners are thinking, if they're thinking at all. (But don't let me pretend to understand how the city works with all it's zoning laws and permit requirements and whatnot.)

Jan--Thanks for coming by. I'm not on a personal vendetta against you. So please understand this is a matter of me disagreeing with you over something you expressed on a website.

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion and to express it as you wish. But I currently live in South Nashville and the area isn't, nor has it ever been, so far as I can tell, enriched by preserving the fairgrounds. What I said in my post was based purely on your article and the quote I posted here. I don't apologize for saying that it is an example of a stunted thinking to say that we should preserve the fairgrounds. If you still lived in South Nashville would you want to preserve the fairgrounds? What if you were thinking of selling your house in the next few years and you lived on Thuss Avenue or any one of the streets in the surrounding neighborhood?

As I understand it, there was a period in Nashville's history when this area of south Nashville was extremely nice. Perhaps that's when you lived there. The point is, you don't live here now. So saving the fairgrounds has no direct bearing on you or the economy of your immediate area. It's quite easy for many people who live outside the area of influence to say, "Save the fairgrounds!" And that's what I was accusing you of. I could have been wrong, and if I was, I'd still disagree with you. I have several neighbors who think saving the fairgounds is tantamount to building schools in Nepal.

I'm not opposed to preserving truly historic sites, especially when it involves private money. I'm not pro-change just for the sake of change. My experience with the fairgrounds is just that, MY experience. And it hasn't been so poignant that against all reason, I feel it should be preserved. The crime rate is very high in the area surrounding the fairgrounds and I have several friends with young children who would like to see less crime and an improved neighborhood. Maybe you could think about that instead of the families who drive in from Green Hills, Sylvan Park, and Franklin to attend the fair when you're deciding how you feel about whether or not to save the fairgrounds.

Garry said...


Perhaps you prefer to "live in the now", which would prompt you to ignore the rich history that is the Fairgrounds. But wait, that can't be right, because you've made it a point to compare the Tennessee State Fair with the ones in Utah in past years.

Sure, I'd like to see a much nicer, much larger Tennessee State Fair. That's not the point. The Fairgrounds property holds really great memories for many of the "locals" around here. We remember great times at the State Fair, at Fair Park, and yes, at the race track. We remember eagerly taking our report cards to Fair Park to get free ride tickets for every "A" on them. It's about a place that's a landmark of Nashville, and one that should be preserved. Can the Fairgrounds be revitalized? Sure. Can the area? Sure? Will destroying the Fairgrounds make the area a more attractive place to live and work? Who knows? Does history matter? You bet it does.

Since I want don't want to see the Fairgrounds destroyed, in your book I'm "an idiot" - your word, not mine. My thinking's not "stunted". And no, my vision's just fine.

You say we're entitled to our opinions - yet you so obviously wish we weren't. No, you'd rather refer to anyone with an opposing opinion as an idiot than have an honest, open discussion.

Jan Duke has been heading up the local website for years, and she's done a damned fine job of it. She knows the historic value of our landmarks, which you can only guess at. Maybe you should peruse a copy of her book, Historic Photos of Nashville, TN before you dismiss her so flippantly.

That is, of course, if you don't mind reading about such "crappy Pintos" as the Tennessee Theater, Sulphur Dell, Opryland, the Maxwell House and Fort Nashboro, all of which, at one time or another, were on someone's "hit list".

Chris said...

Just a suggestion for your next home purchase. If you don't want to hear cars racing on a summer night, DON'T BUY A HOUSE NEXT TO A RACE TRACK!!!!!

Supersoaker said...

But let's say you do buy a house in South Nashville... Let's say you are optimistic about the future of South Nashville and decide it would be a good investment...

Then, let's say people start talking about getting rid of the fairgrounds... Well, it would help the area. You'd probably get behind the idea, right?

I say support the effort to get rid of the trashy, useless fairgrounds. They suck. Put them somewhere else!

Why is it that every car/house I see with a "Save the Fairgrounds" sign is a junker?

Nicole Grotepas said...

Garry--thanks for the comment.

Maybe you didn't see my response to Jan's comment where I mention that I'm not against preservation of historic sites when there's good reason to preserve them. In case you DID miss it, here it is:

"I'm not opposed to preserving truly historic sites, especially when it involves private money. I'm not pro-change just for the sake of change. My experience with the fairgrounds is just that, MY experience. And it hasn't been so poignant that against all reason, I feel it should be preserved. The crime rate is very high in the area surrounding the fairgrounds and I have several friends with young children who would like to see less crime and an improved neighborhood. Maybe you could think about that instead of the families who drive in from Green Hills, Sylvan Park, and Franklin to attend the fair when you're deciding how you feel about whether or not to save the fairgrounds."

I feel I make some good points. I wonder, where do you live? In South Nashville? Again, I think there are plenty of people in Nashville who are outspoken against changing the fairgrounds who don't actually live in the immediate area, where the economy is influenced by the presence of that vast swath of rundown property, which remains empty for most of the year.

In case you're unaware of it, this is my blog. I'm not required to attempt to foster open discussion. If I were writing for a paper, maybe so, but since this is a place for me to write about my views and joke about things that I see as ridiculous in society, then I will do so. I was in no way trying to foster discussion about the subject of the fairgrounds, nor was I trying to shut down discussion. I was merely articulating my thoughts about it in what I found to be a humorous, exaggerated manner. It pleased me to do so. I got a good chuckle about it. Because it is ridiculous to fight against a change just to preserve your "really great memories."

I do think the notion that all things that contribute to any person's memories should be preserved beyond all reason is kind of hilarious. Just because you have memories of a fonder time when the fair was awesome doesn't mean it makes sense to preserve this area. If that were the case, then nothing would ever change. Are your memories dependent on external stimuli? You will still have them if the fairgrounds go the way of all the earth. You will have lost nothing that matters in terms of your past if the fairgrounds are turned into a park. The memories are inside you, not at the fairgrounds.

In case you haven't noticed, the stretch of Nolensville road near the fairgrounds is trying to become nicer. But it's hampered by the presence of the fairgrounds. Go ahead and fight tooth and nail to preserve something that's totally centered on you and your memories of what Nashville used to be. Don't think of the young, new families who have moved into the area to be close to downtown and who would like to see the area improve and grow in a direction that's healthy for a community of families.

I didn't dismiss Jan Duke. I disagreed with her. And I disagree with you that the fairgrounds is a historic landmark. Did a civil war battle take place there? Is there an Indian burial ground there?

Even if those things were centered on the fairgrounds, I would still argue that at some point, things must change. You can disagree with me. But you cannot preserve every single aspect of a city or any area. The earth itself disrupts the preservation process. Have a good time holding back the tide.

Nicole Grotepas said...

Chris--really good point. Thanks so much for coming by and taking the time to let me know.

I agree with you in a lot of ways. Really, the sound of the racing cars is no big deal. I don't live that close to it to have it bother me so much. And you know, when I was growing up, I lived next to an amusement park, so all summer long I could hear the crowds on the rides screaming or shouting "oooooh."

I feel the same irritation with people who buy a house in an area where they know what the area is like, buy the house anyway, and then complain and try to change everything about the area.

But I didn't do that. When I bought my house, I had only lived in Nashville a year. I thought it was a sufficient distance from the fairgrounds to not be bothered by the fairgrounds. As I've lived there, I've seen how the fairgrounds have held the area back and my opinion has changed. Then, as Supersoaker pointed out (thanks for the great comment Supersoaker), the city began talking of changing the fairgrounds and that sounded like a good idea to me.

But then a bunch of people who most likely want change but can't stand to lose something so wonderful like having the fair right by their house, decided they were against this change.

It's been very disheartening.

Anonymous said...


As a former classmate of yours at dear old demolished Davis High, I just wanted to say I love your blog. It's great to read about you mixing it up in Tennessee. I'm sorry to hear your state fair sucks so bad. Good luck getting rid of the fairgrounds.

Nicole Grotepas said...

What?! Why wouldn't you sign your name? Thanks for reading, but I'd really love to know which former classmate this is. :)