Restoring a way of life
People who have been going to the fair regularly for years might do a double take as they enter this year.
The old corn mill outside the Exhibition Hall had been sitting idle and rusting away for years, but now it’s working, cleaned up and covered with a new coat of paint courtesy of Boy Scout Troop 119.
The mill was owned by the Temple family, and County Commissioner Jimmie Temple and his son, County Planning Technician James Temple Jr., were there to see a test run Thursday evening along with the scouts.
“I can’t tell you what it means to see it working,” Jimmy Temple said.
The broad smile on his face as he felt the corn meal coming out made that obvious.
The mill was brought to the fair grounds several decades ago from the Oak City Mill, Chair and Store complex the family once owned in Seymour.
It first saw use in 1918, according to the Temples.
That complex is gone now. It was once in the area where Majestic Meadows subdivision now sits, along railroad tracks that ran between Knoxville and Sevierville.
It once served not only as a place where they could make meal to sell in Knoxville, but where local people could get their own corn ground.
As far as the Temples know, the mill is the last piece from the complex still in existence. It was operated at the fair for a few years, but had been sitting idle for many years before.
Thanks to the scouts from Troop 119, it’s getting a new life.
It will be operating at the fair again this year.
Scoutmaster Rick Long said it mostly needed cosmetic work — getting rid of rust and old paint and repainting it. “It really just needed cleaning up,” Long said
They’d talked about doing it before, and considered making it a project for an Eagle Scout before deciding to tackle it this summer as a group.
“It was really rusty so we all picked a day and came down and worked together,” said Olan Loveday, one of the scouts.
“We came down on a couple of Saturdays. We were glad to get it restored for them.”
It’s being powered for now by a tractor owned by Ira Crawford.
The boiler that sits alongside it, which was not part of the original equipment at the mill, isn’t certified for use.
But all the same, fairgoers will have the chance to see a piece of Sevier County’s history in action when the fair opens Monday, thanks to the Temples and Troop 119.