Posted on 09/13/2010 at 4:47am

The Wilson County Fair in middle Tennessee is the fairest of all the local fairs. The grounds on which the fair occupies covers acres of land that transform once a year as the barns and other structures become filled with animals, horticulture, art, and all variety of music and side shows that people young and old journey to enjoy every August for one week. This year, I woke to an idea of going alone one day to paint at the fair before the crowds had arrived. It was a typical hot August day and I wondered if this was just a crazy idea. When I arrived the gates were open and I walked in unnoticed with my equipment. I headed straight for the midway and decided that the shade of an unoccupied food stand with two operating fans could make my time painting more bearable, so I set up and completed this painting. I talked to several of the workers who were preparing for the opening that evening and they told me that they had never seen any one painting at the fair before. I photographed and later added to the painting a couple holding hands, who I assume were transient workers as they headed back from the showers on the grounds. They had a long hot day and night ahead of them and I wondered about the life they had chosen and was glad they had each other to share it.

Oil on Canvas 20"x16"

Fiddlers Grove takes you back in time at the fair. The historic old log buildings that have been donated and brought there from farms all over the county to preserve them at this location has the atmosphere of an old country village. When I arrived in the afternoon it was shady and cool in the Grove. I heard music being played and followed after it to find this group of three men playing their instruments for no one in particular. I enjoyed listening to their bluegrass music and stories they were telling about the instruments they had come to love as I painted them.

Oil on Canvas 11"x14"

Later on that day I walked to the midway and set up to do another painting as the crowds began to arrive. A  young boy watched me intently as I worked. I turned and looked back at him and I thought I was seeing double. I asked him, is he your twin? He said “Yes, we have the same birthday, 8 so far, we are in the same grade in school, and my Mom dresses us the same way.” Then he asked me, “How did you learn to paint so good?” I told him,  ” I started painting when I was very young, and never have stopped doing it. No one has ever really taught me. I could do it as soon as I tried to, and it just got easier and faster with practice.”

Oil on Canvas 16"x20"

My next painting was the last one I did at this years fair. I decided to set up in the animal house where the chickens and other foul are housed and juried for the first, blue ribbon,  second,  red,  and third, which is the white ribbon.  There is very wide variety of sizes, colors and shapes of chickens, duck, geese and turkeys and the sounds that they make are very interesting to hear and I wonder if any of them understand what they are saying. I am sure they were complaining about the heat, but who is to say. The clucking and crowing was endless as I painted. The oppressive odor in this building is difficult to describe, but leave it to say, it made me hurry to finish my painting. I wanted to add children as they were looking at the birds so I photographed several as they went by and chose this little girl and her father as he introduced her unwillingly to look more closely at them.

Oil on Canvas 11"x14"

I was so happy to be able to capture my impressions on canvas.  Please let me know your thoughts about my work and feel free to share this blog with your internet friends and family.  My joy is made so much greater by giving it wings.


  1. Harriett Mittelberger says:

    Sharon – These paintings are great. I like where you are going. H

  2. richard says:

    I have always been intrigued by the time at a carny just after sunset and just before total night when the sky is still a kind of ethereal blue and the artificial lights are not quite needed. There is a kind of palpable tension perhaps between the day not being quite ready to relinquish it’s hold and the oncoming night. The intersection between the sacred and the profane.

  3. barbara aquilino wienke says:

    Sharon, I love these paintings!! You really captured the feeling of the fair…absolutely gorgeous!! You are unbelieveably talented!! Love, Barbara

  4. Bruce and Alice says:

    Sharon, Really enjoyed the fair paintings.Brought back a lot of memories. I haven’t been to a fair since I was a kid but growing up in a small town the fair was a really big deal that was much anticipated.My best memories was going to Club Eboney.It was a show like you might have seen on the Chitlin Circut at a time that Black music was not avalable to a white audience.Blues and r&b artist,ranchy comedians and dancing girls.Influnced my musical taste for the rest of my life.

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