Carnivals in Tennessee

by Christopher John

Tennessee is noted for its natural beauty and southern hospitality. But fun doesn't stop there. Annual carnivals are held across the state, both as part of larger festivals or fairs and as events unto themselves. From the eastern half to the western border, Tennessee boasts a number of carnivals offering rides, corn dogs and other carnival staples.

Carnival Memphis

Originally called the Cotton Carnival in 1931, in honor of the western Tennessee city's past cash crop, the Carnival Mempis ( endures as a week-long celebration that celebrated its 80th year in 2011. It normally occurs during the first week in June, and features a royal court, in addition to a king and queen. A business and industry luncheon honors successful local business persons, while parties and events during the week, including a Mardis Gras-type parade, encompass the celebration.

World's Biggest Fish Fry

Over five tons of catfish are normally on order to fulfill this yearly World's Biggest Fish Fry celebration (, which occurs in Paris, also located in west Tennessee, generally during the last full week of April. A carnival featuring rides and food is part of the festivities, which normally include a dance, rodeo, parade, and country-flavored fun, such as a horse and mule pull, fishing rodeo and catfish race. In addition to the abundant fish ready to be devoured, there is also a hushpuppy eating contest.


A year-round carnival is offered at Tennessee's most popular tourist attraction, located in Pigeon Forge in the eastern half of the state. Named after entertainer Dolly Parton, the 130-acre park offers rides with such names as Barnstormer, Blazing Fury, Daredevil Falls, Mountain Slidewinder and Shooting Star. The theme park also features master craftsmen and artisans who create hand-made crafts. Dollywood Nights offers a week of extended park hours before school kids head back to school at summer's end.

Tennessee State Fair

The Tennessee State Fair occurs every year in Nashville. The fair is held at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, and includes a carnival packed with enjoyable rides and such carnival food staples such as cotton candy and corn dogs. Usually held in September, a four-year gap during World War II was the only time the fair has not been held since its first year in 1906.

About the Author

Totally immersed in the pursuit of writing, I am currently writing a screenplay. My unyielding curiosity keeps me reading about a varied landscape of topics to grow more informed.