By Crystal Burns
The 162nd Gibson County Fair got off to a wet start, but the skies cleared in time for opening ceremonies on Monday, Aug. 28.
Andy Zarecor, president of the Fair Association Board of Directors, thanked a crew of volunteers for working through the flash floods that morning to put the finishing touches on the fairgrounds.
“We didn’t let the rain slow us down,” he said. “[Our volunteers and judges] went right on chugging along. They have worked hard.”
Each year, the board chooses a city or group to honor throughout fair week. This year’s festivities paid tribute to county first responders.
“They’re quick to leave their own livelihoods at a moment’s notice to help when we’re in need,” Zarecor said. He presented certificates to first responders from Gibson County EMS, Humboldt Area Rescue Squad, and the Spring Hill, Moores Chapel, Brazil, Tyson, Fruitland, Station No. 9, Dyer, Bradford, Milan, Medina, Trenton, and Yorkville Fire Departments.
Zarecor also gave special recognition to two fair volunteers – Teresa Lowery and Sandra Newman.
Fair board members Victoria Abbott and Laura Speer presented plaques to several Century Farms: The Homeplace in Trenton, Davidson Farm in Dyer, Thompson Homeplace in Dyer, and Davidson-Dowland Farm in Bradford.
The Tennessee Century Farms Program was created in 1975 by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration. In 1985, the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University assumed responsibility for the program, which is a recognition and documentary effort.
The primary focus is to honor the dedication and contributions of families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years. Since its inception, the statewide program has recognized more than 1800 certified farms. There is a Century Farm in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties.
The Homeplace – Current owners are Tina Claybrooks Smith and her husband, Doug. Tina’s grandfather, Clarence Claybrooks, purchased the land in 1884. She and Doug took over the farm in 1985. Doug farms corn and beans. Tina and Doug will pass the farm on to their daughters Carol Ann Proudfit and Jan Smith.
Davidson Farm – Current owners are Reggie and Barbara Davidson. Reggie’s great-great grandfather, John Davidson, purchased the farm in 1896. He passed down 18 acres to Reggie’s grandfather, Roy Davidson. Reggie and Barbara purchased the farm in 1985. The farm produces wheat, corn, and beans and is currently farmed by Charles King of Dyer. The Davidson couple will pass down their farm to their daughter, Jennifer, and her family.
Thompson Homeplace – John Thompson was born in 1829 in Maury County. His parents brought him to Gibson County later that year. John was a farmer; at his death, he operated 248 acres of farmland on Mud Creek, six miles west of Dyer. He had one living son, Luther Thompson, who had nine living children. Martha Evelyn Thompson McVay was the youngest child and inherited the home place. She has two children, Benny McVay and Nancy McVay Thompson, who still reside on and operate the 248-acre farm. The earliest deed is dated 1841.
Following opening ceremonies, the fair board joined with county chambers of commerce representatives and Farm Credit Mid-America to cut the ribbon on a new barn that bears the Farm Credit name.
Farm Credit Mid-America made a significant investment in the barn, and several other local business and groups have contributed sponsorship dollars. The fair association is responsible for 10 percent of the barn’s cost, and fundraising efforts are ongoing.
Zarecor also thanked the Gibson County Commission for making the fairgrounds addition a reality.