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The Worlds Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1982 Knoxville Worlds Fair - 
Knoxville International Energy Exposition




  • 131 facts and trivia nuggets with links to 9 more resources.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003: divide the amount by .531 



The Following are on CD
High Resolution Images (9) Bonus: Timeline 1982 (47)





  • Title: 1982 Knoxville World's Fair, Knoxville International Energy Exposition.

  • Theme: Energy Turns The World.

  • Symbol: Spherical Flame (not the Sunsphere).

  • Location: Knoxville, Tennessee.

  • Type of Exposition: Specialized Exposition.

  • Dates: May 1 - October 31, 1982

  • Area: 30 hectares (72 acres).

  • Cost: $42,000,000.

  • Attendance: 11,127,786.

  • One Day Attendance Record: 102,842 on October 9th.

  • Daily Admission: $9.95 for adults, $8.25 for children, $9.25 for senior citizens.
    Season Pass: $50

  • Hours: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM daily for exhibits, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM overall.

  • Exhibitors: 188.

  • Participating Nations (23): Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States, West Germany.

  • Participating States (7): Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, ???.

  • Fire Engines: 2.

  • Infirmary: 10 beds.

  • Telephones: 400.

  • Security and Maintenance People: 60.

  • Marching Band Performances: 368.

  • Parking Spaces: 13,000.

  • Parking: $6.00 a day.

  • Buses: 120.

  • Official Guidebook: $5.00.

  • Official Vacation Guide: $2.00.

  • Population of Knoxville, Tennessee (1982): 181,500.

  • Population of the United States (1982):  220,000,000.

  • The Fair actually made a profit ... $57.


Facts and Trivia



  • Knoxville International Energy Exposition was founded in 1976. 

  • Making it the smallest city to host an International Exposition.

  • A monorail was proposed, but funding never materialized.

  • Buckminster Fuller suggested a huge translucent geodesic dome design, 12 inches thick and made of aluminum. But the KIEE Environmental Impact Statement made it impossible.

  • Theme weeks: Folk Medicine Week, Roots of Appalachia Week, Storytelling Week, Family Week, Occupational Week, Old Time Radio Reunion Week, Native American Week, Gospel Week, Woman's Culture Week, Coal Mining Week, and Harvest Week.

  • The exhibits of Peru, China, and Egypt were the most popular.

  • The Peruvian Pavilion contained and unwrapped mummy.

  • Capitalism was working in the Chinese Pavilion, they sold so many of their exhibits that Fair Officials asked them to bring in more items. They even charged $1 to spell your name in Chinese. 

  • The China Pavilion was so popular that lines routinely ran 4 hours long.

  • The Egyptian exhibit was valued at over $30 million.

  • The Panama Exhibit was the first for Panama since the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.

  • Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Elmanda Marcos visited the Philippine Exhibit. Elmanda Marcos twice.

  • Exhibitors included advocates of nuclear energy and of solar energy.

  • Bob Lanier's tennis shoes were on display (size 17).

  • The Worlds Largest Bed was on display.

  • President Ronald Reagan gave the opening ceremony speech in front of  87,569 people.

  • The rock-group Men at Work made their American debut at The Australian Pavilion.

  • Solar and wireless public telephones and the first touch-screen monitors.

  • 90,000 people attended the Steelers vs. Patriots NFL exhibition game at Neyland Stadium.

  • The Hungarian Pavilion had a 216 cubic foot mechanical Rubik's cube. Contests were held regularly with Erno Rubick, inventor of the Rubik's Cube. Hungary donated the building, and the cube, to the City of Knoxville after the Fair

  • Hassan bin Talal, the Crown Prince of Jordan, visited the fair.



  • Bob Hope celebrated his 79th birthday at the fair.

  • Attendance exceeded that of Expo74 in Spokane and the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

  • The European Economic Community had its first pavilion at a world exposition. The EEC united 10 nations: Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom and West Germany. The first project supported by the EEC was the $25 million Eurelios solar plant in Adrano, Italy.

  • Featured Entertainment: Bob Hope, Peter Nero, Chet Atkins, Carlos Montoya, Bill Cosby, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Hal Holbrook, The Grand Kabuki, Isaac Stern, The Royal Tahitian Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Johnny and June Cash, Richie Havens, 
    Jimmie Walker, Lipizzan Stallions, Victor Borge, Red Skelton, Dave Loggins, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Rudolf Nureyev, Kingston Trio, Ricky Skaggs, Tracy Nelson, 
    Ink Spots, Christy lane, Warsaw Philharmonic, Lynn Anderson, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, London Symphony Orchestra, Five Blind Boys, Conway Twitty, Aldridge Sisters, 
    Peter Yarrow, McLain Family Band, Tim Weisberg, Jeff Lorber, The Ventures, The Four Freshmen, Leon Redbone.

  • The first touch-screen computer displays were demonstrated, in the US Pavilion.

  • Petro's Chili and Chips made their debut at the Fair. The original name was "Petroleum Belly" and they featured energy-themed menu items. They appeared again at the 1984 Louisiana Exposition.

  • Deelybobbers - antennae-like headbands that supported a pair of ball-topped springs - was a popular item that was introduced at the Fair.

  • A motorized ketchup bottle roamed the grounds dispensing free pins.

  • The Great Lakes Brewing company released a different color beer can each month of the Fair. In Order: Red, Blue, Green, Purple, Brown, Gold, Yellow, Black and Orange.

  • Tennessee played Alabama in a college football game at Neyland Stadium on October 16th. 95,342 people watched Tennessee beat the Crimson Tide in the final seconds of the game. Bear Bryant died three months later.

  • The day after the Fair closed, the FDIC launched audits of Jake Butcher's banks. The uncovering loan fraud sent him, his family and business associates to prison. Jake Butcher was Chairman of the Board for the 1982 World's Fair.

  • Leonard Nimoy was promoting Magnavox TV's.

  • The Federal Express Pavilion put on a Laser Show every night. As a matter of fact, it was the largest laser display of it's kind in the world and the first for a World's Fair.

  • After construction and the Fair opened ... they discovered a need for more toilets.

  • The Theme "Energy Turns the World" was chosen to counter the negative catch phrase of the 70's, "Energy Crisis".

  • The International Energy Symposia held the third in a series of symposiums that began in 1980.

  • The Hungarian Pavilion featured a replica of the "Gagarin" thermal power station and a model of the "Thorez" surface mining project.

  • Other displays in the Republic of China Pavilion: a section of the Great Wall, a giant tank that that produces and collects swamp gas, and a 20 foot long, 6 foot wide solar powered dragon boat on which you could take trips along the river.

  • The Egyptian Pavilion displayed items from the age of the Pharaoh's, the Greco-Roman period and pieces dating from the time of Mary and Joseph.

  • The Canadian Pavilion showed two animated films dealing with energy conservation and power consumption. Stars were Nelson Permafrost and his dog Rollo, and Dr Now with his sidekick Felix.

  • The Canadian Pavilion also featured a 22 foot working model of the worlds largest wind turbine.



  • The French Pavilion had a electrified scale model of the Bullet Train, the world's fastest train. Also known as the TGV, it can reach speeds of up to 235 mph.

  • The Korean Pavilion featured "Ondol", a "hot-floor heating system" that's been around since Prehistoric times. The system can also be used for cooking.

  • The Korea Pavilion also celebrated 100 years of Korea-US relations.

  • The Saudi Arabia Pavilion displayed a 400 square foot animated model of the Grand Mosque of Mecca.

  • The Gas Energy Exhibit was housed in a 5,000 square foot, 55 foot tall blue and silver pyramid. And it had a 35 foot drilling rig in the center.

  • The Baptist Ministries Pavilion housed an antique display case filled with Bible's made by America's first Bible Publisher, AJ Holman and Company. The display received an award 
    at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Also on display was a solar powered carillon by Schlmerich Carillon, Inc.

  • The Tennessee Valley Authority exhibit was housed on two barges on the Tennessee River. They also offered a bus trip to two of the TVA's dams and power plants.

  • Cathedralite was a 2,300 square foot energy-efficient geodesic domed house. Among the features was a futuristic telephone-computer which could: plan menus, handle banking transactions, provide recordkeeping and maintain a calendar.

  • Nascar Gatorade 88, was part of the Stokely-Van Camp Exhibit.

  • The COMSAT display featured a direct-to-home broadcasting system.

  • FarmBest, a new "non-refrigerated" milk, made it's debut. It came in a box ...mmmm good.

  • Union Carbide had battery-operated toys (imagine that), and around 150 of them.

  • The Hartco/United Foods Exhibit had a miniature circus. Fifteen plexiglass cases displayed 1/2" scale models of circus life carved by Harold Dunn. Each scene was reproduced from actual circus posters collected by Dunn. The exhibit also had a 30 by 60 foot scale model of a circus made by Harold Tibbals, executive vice president of Hartco.

  • The Aluminum Industry display was a vertical-axis wind turbine. Based on a patented design by GJ Darrieus in 1925, it used curved rotor blades allowing it to work in wind from any direction. A motor was needed to start the turbine, the wind took over after that.

  • The Control Data Exhibit presented PLATO, a computer based education system.

  • WSJK, a local TV station, broadcast 12 hours a day on two channels. .

  • The Niagara Therapy Manufacturing Company displayed a heated back massage chair called the "Rollassage". And a bed with 1,000 adjustable positions.

  • Ford Motor Company debuted a new Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV). The two passenger car used natural gas or methane. A propane-powered Granada was also on display.

  • The Holiday Beach resorts Exhibit featured a new concept ... timesharing.

  • Lay's (maker of meat products), had three costumed pigs roaming the grounds.

  • Bob Mackie designed the DuPont Marching Band's uniforms.

  • Computer games provided entertainment in the L&N Station.

  • An ad for the Gas Energy Pavilion exclaimed, " Discover Gas at the Worlds Fair".

  • Two Riverboats offered cruises, the Becky Thatcher and the Good Ship Lollipop.

  • It was the last successful World's Fair held in America.

  • Today, local warehouses are still filled with original souvenir items.

  • The Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater are the only structures that remain.





  • The Sunsphere is 266 feet tall, has 4 revolving levels and could accommodate 376 diners.

  • An earlier concept was the "Tower of Power". It was taller and resembled the Eiffel Tower.

  • It has a volume of 203,689 cubic feet and a surface of 16,742 square feet.

  • The top level observaton deck had 120 seats.

  • 5 levels of reflective bronze-coated glass windows..

  • The Sun Company sponsored Sunsphere.


US Pavilion


  • The US Pavilion was a 6 story cantilever building.

  • Over 5,000 feet of solar panels were on it's roof, providing enough power to operate the ventilation system.

  • The IMAX theatre presented a $1.2 million film by Francis Thompson, on a screen 65 feet high and 90 feet wide.

  • 33 "talk-back" computers were distributed throughout the five levels and contained more than 400 industrial films. It was run with Apple software, Sony Laser Discs and touch video screens from Elographics of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

  • Video displays included energy topics covering: coal, oil, gas, geothermal, hydropower, solar, biomass and wind power.

  • The 86,409 square foot building cost $20.8 million.

  • The building was to be permanent, but feel into disrepair and was torn down in April, 1991.

  • The Gosamer Penguin was on display. It was the first successful solar-powered aircraft.


Official Licensees


  • The Official Airlines: Delta.

  • The Official Artist: Peter Max.

  • The Official Auto Maker: Ford.

  • The Official Baby Food: Gerber's.

  • The Official Bakery: Kern's.

  • The Official Beer: Stroh's.

  • The Official Carpet: Cimarron.

  • The Official Coffee: JFG.

  • The Official Gas: Texaco.

  • The Official Limousine: Bell.

  • The Official Lock: Yale.

  • The Official Meat: Lay's.

  • The Official Motorcoach: Greyhound.

  • The Official Paint: Gilman.

  • The Official Piano: Kimball Piano and Organ.

  • The Official Popcorn: Popeye's.

  • The Official Rent-a-Car: Avis.

  • The Official Soft Drink: Coca-Cola.

  • The Official Supplier of Flags and Banners: Pageantry World.

  • The Official Tree: Dogwood.


Links, Online Sources



Books, Sources


  • Deluxe Pictorial Souvenir Book. Mike Roberts Color Productions. 26 pages. 1981.

  • Official Guidebook, 1982 World's Fair.
     Exposition Publishers.
    Fred Geissel, Frank Franich. 208 pages.

  • Official Vacation Guide to the 1982 World's Fair.
     Exposition Publishers.
    Fred Geissel, Frank Franich. 48 pages.



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