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By Ian Skotte, staff writer
No other state park offers it.
At 1 p.m. on March 29, Tims Ford State Park will hold its annual live public auction for seasonal campsites at the Fairview Campground.
Tims Ford rangers will soon begin preparing for the auction by setting up tables and chairs. A pavilion provides shelter for auctioneers and bidders.
The bidders’ “significant others” wait to see how much they will be spending on their “ideal” spot while kids dash up and down the lake’s bank.
There is even the occasional onlooker curious to see how much the campsites will go for.
“We get a pretty good crowd,” said park ranger Kenny Gragg.
Typically 40 to 50 people show up every year for the event.
Do not expect any fast talk at this auction. Park rangers or campground attendants actually put on the auction.
“So it’s not as quite fast paced,” said Gragg.
The park will offer 18 full hook-up camper trailer sites for rent for the entire camping season, which begins April 1 and runs through Sept. 30, according to Shannon Ashford, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) communications officer.
Fairview has 85 camping sites, and the 18 seasonal rental spots at Fairview usually sell out during the auction.
“Sites begin at $300 to $350 per month and can go for as much as $500 to $700 each,” said Ashford.
Bidders must be present for the live auction at 1 p.m. and must register between noon and 1 p.m., according to Ashford.
Auctioning off the campsites is a long-held tradition. According to ranger Gragg, Tims Ford is simply carrying on with the tradition following the transfer from Tims Ford Elk River Development Agency (TERDA).
The transfer took place in 1997 for an additional 1,530 acres of TERDA and TVA lands to the park that enabled the state to construct an 18-hole recreational championship golf course (Bear Trace) and other recreation infrastructure on these lands.
In 2001, the Tennessee Valley Authority and state transferred an additional 538.1 acres (including five lake-access areas, an additional campground and full service marina) into Tims Ford State Park, according to a state website.
“We’ve got all these lands around the lake including every campground with the exception of Cline Ridge,” said Gragg. “We’re just continuing what they were already doing down here with the auctioning off of these sites.”
He added that it is also a guaranteed revenue source for those six months. Monies obtained from these campsites go into the state’s general fund, Gragg added.
Fishermen make up a majority of Fairview’s campground with its close proximity to the lake.
“They’ll leave their camper down here and basically use it as a residence,” said Gragg.
He added a bulk of the visitors have backgrounds in construction and end up building fancy decks around their campers.
“Usually they’ll just be here on the weekends,” said Gragg. “Though some folks stay here for the entire six-month stretch.”
In addition to Fairview, Tims Ford has one other campground — the Tims Ford State Park Campground, which has 52 camping sites. Those sites are available for a small fee.
Fairview Campground is located at 263 Fairview Campground Road in Winchester. For more information about the auction or renting a cabin at the park, contact the park’s office at 931-962-1183.