City Announces Centennial Conservation Expo for October

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City Announces Centennial Conservation Expo for October

Posted: 04/16/2013
Mayor Madeline Rogero today announced plans for the Centennial Conservation Expo, sponsored by the City of Knoxville, to be held in Chilhowee Park on Oct. 12, 2013. The daylong fair will commemorate the National Conservation Exposition of 1913, also held in Chilhowee Park, and will celebrate 100 years of conservation efforts in Knoxville and East Tennessee.

"Generations of dedicated East Tennesseans have accomplished great things in conservation during the past 100 years," Mayor Rogero said. "From the Great Smoky Mountains to Ijams Nature Center, we have worked to preserve and protect wild areas, wildlife, air and water. The Centennial Conservation Expo will be an opportunity to showcase much of the work that has been done during the past century, and the work that is still being done."

The Expo will include historical displays, photographs and films, hands-on demonstrations and exhibits, children's activities, live entertainment, athletic competitions, multimedia presentations and events throughout the grounds of Chilhowee Park.

It will also be an opportunity to showcase Chilhowee Park itself. "A lot of people don't realize how long and rich the history of this park really is," Mayor Rogero said. "Ever since trolley tracks first connected Chilhowee Park with downtown Knoxville in 1890, it has been a vital center of Knoxville life. It remains a jewel in the heart of East Knoxville."

Among the organizations participating in the Expo are AIGA Knoxville, Discover Life in America, East Tennessee Discovery Center, Foothills Land Conservancy, Fort Loudoun Lake Association, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Ijams Nature Center, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Knox County Schools, Knox County Solid Waste, Knox Heritage, Knoxville Area Transit, Knoxville Zoo, Legacy Parks Foundation/Outdoor Knoxville, Luna Creative, McClung Historical Collection, Museum of East Tennessee History, National Parks Conservation Association, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Partners of the Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, TVA, UT Extension and Visit Knoxville.

Mayor Rogero was joined at the announcement today by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and a special guest: Sam Heiskell, who was mayor of Knoxville in 1913 (portrayed by actor Vania Smrkovski of the Tennessee Stage Company). He talked about the creation of the 1913 National Conservation Exposition, which was important in the early history of the conservation movement. Setting the period tone for the event was the barbershop quartet Common Time, made up of Powell High School students Caleb Brewer, Harrison Cooke, Noah Muncy and Josh Neely.

About the 1913 National Conservation Exposition

The National Conservation Exposition opened in Chilhowee Park on Sept. 1, 1913, with a parade from downtown Knoxville and a congratulatory telegram from President Woodrow Wilson. During the next two months, the Exposition reportedly drew more than a million visitors - especially impressive when you consider that the population of the City of Knoxville at the time was just over 35,000.

It was a showcase for the burgeoning conservation movement, highlighting issues like flooding and erosion, natural resource scarcity, modern farming techniques and preservation of wildlife. But it also featured extravagant entertainment, including elephants, fortune tellers and a zip line across the Chilhowee Park lake. Among those who attended were Helen Keller, Booker T. Washington and William Jennings Bryan. Many of the notable Knoxvillians involved with planning and organizing the Exposition went on to be involved in the movement to found the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Vania Smrkovski (Mayor Sam Heiskell) Bio

Vania Smrkovski is an actor, director and writer. He has performed locally in "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune," "The Diary of Anne Frank," Tennessee Stage Company's production of the Tennessee Williams play "Talk to me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen," as Orson Welles in a re-creation of the radio play "War of the Worlds" and, most recently, in Rob Simpson's film adaptation of "Macbeth" in the title role.

Mr. Smrkovski's costuming was provided by Designs By De Wayne.