KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's rare for a company to have even one employee for more than 50 years, but the Tennessee Valley Fair has several of them.
John Jared, the 'voice' of the fair, has been an employee since 1965.
"I do all the announcing of the activities, all the things happening at the fair. It goes out all across Chilhowee Park and the fairgrounds," Jared said.
When he first started working at the fair, he was a grad student at the University of Tennessee.
"I grew up on a tobacco farm in middle Tennessee, and they wanted me to come and judge tobacco. They assumed I knew something about it if I grew up in a tobacco field," Jared said about his first role at the fair.
Since then, he's held several different positions, but his favorite is being the 'voice' of the fair.
"It's a fun job, and I enjoy doing it. I love the people. I feed off of that. I guess that's why I keep coming back," Jared said.
There are a lot of employees, like him, who come back year after year, decade after decade.
Nick Coffey is the Ticket Office Manager.
"This is my 50th year here," Coffey said.
"I haven’t missed a day at the fair in 50 years. That’s unusual, but I enjoy it so much. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it," Coffey said, adding that his favorite aspect of the job is meeting all the fairgoers.
"It's like a family reunion," Carleen Weaver said.
Weaver works the ticket window. She's been with the fair for 46 years.
"You've got people who were here when they were teenagers, and they still come back," Weaver said.
Weaver, Coffey, and Jared agree, working at the fair for so many years, makes it like family.
The Tennessee Valley Fair is in town through Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.