Nashvillians who want the State Fairgrounds to stay a fairgrounds are not going down without a fight.
A community meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Knowles Senior Center to drum up support for keeping the century-old facility open.
Thomas Watson, an organizer of the meeting, said despite the fair board’s decision to no longer hold the Tennessee State Fair at the Nolensville Road site, he and others like him plan to keep battling.
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” he said.
Watson cited a 1901 piece of state legislation that authorizes Davidson County to issue the bonds for the purchase of the fairgrounds, which he said puts Metro under obligation to host a permanent state fair at the site.
That argument’s been floated before and resulted in Mayor Karl Dean issuing a letter to the fair board “recommending” the closure of the fairgrounds — a recommendation the board acted on.
Nevertheless, Watson said the fair must go on.
“We have the mayor admitting the charter is correct and they can’t change the charter without a referendum and even if they change the charter, they can’t change state law,” he said.
Watson also disputes the notion that the fairgrounds loses money and that it lives off taxpayer dollars.
“It’s never got a dime and over the last five years, it’s turned a profit,” he said.
While Watson and his group will be fighting to maintain the status quo — a half-hour earlier on the other side of the fairgrounds, another meeting about the fairgrounds’ future will take place.
Council member Sandra Moore — whose district includes the fairgrounds — is hosting a public meeting at 6 p.m. in Wilson Hall to “discuss the process going forward for redevelopment plans,” according to Dean’s spokesperson Janel Lacy.
Moore did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday afternoon.
Watson said he is “aware” of the other public meeting.
“She ought to be [at the preservation meeting]. It sits in the middle of her district. We are going to have people handing out handbills in front of Wilson Hall inviting them to our meeting,” he said.
The preservation meeting will be hosted by former council member Ronnie Greer and Watson said a number of current council lmembers said they will attend.