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Sweet P’s Barbecue to open World’s Fair pop-up in support of Sunsphere preservation

November 3, 2021

In celebration of the upcoming 40th anniversary of the 1982 World’s Fair, Chris Ford, co-owner of Sweet P’s Barbecue, will sell pieces of his World’s Fair memorabilia collection at a pop-up store inside Bliss & Tori Mason Shoes in downtown Knoxville.

“I’ve been curating a collection of 1982 World’s Fair memorabilia for more than two decades,” Ford said. “Some of the pieces were in the original Sweet P’s, and customers started bringing in interesting pieces to sell and trade and it grew from there. With the 40th anniversary of the World’s Fair coming up in May 2022, we’re cultivating excitement by offering some favorite pieces just in time for the holidays – and for a good cause.”

A portion of the proceeds from the pop-up store will be donated to the Sunsphere Fund, created in 2019 to protect, preserve and maintain the historic structure that was built as a symbol of the 1982 event, which was formally known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition.

“The Sunsphere is in need of some updates and renovation, and it’s important that we preserve this local treasure,” Ford said. “It’s an iconic image that people automatically associate with Knoxville and a big part of our downtown landscape.”

The pop-up store will open Thursday, Nov. 4 inside Bliss & Tori Mason Shoes, located at 445 S. Gay St., with a welcome party that evening from 5-7 p.m.

The Sweet P’s 1982 World’s Fair collection includes items such as artwork, cookbooks, sets of drinking glasses and memorabilia. New vintage style T-shirts also will be available for purchase with throwback designs as another way patrons can support and celebrate the milestone anniversary.

“We are glad to partner to with Sweet P’s and host the pop-up store in support of the Sunsphere Fund and in honor of a major part of our town’s history,” said Lisa Sorensen, co-founder and co-owner of Bliss.

“We welcome the public to come in and see the curated collection and take home a 1982 World’s Fair memento,” added Scott Schimmel, co-founder and co-owner of Bliss.

Sorensen and Schimmel opened the first of the Bliss stores in 2003 in Knoxville, and now have five locations in Tennessee and Kentucky, offering clothing, shoes, gifts, furniture and home goods.

Learn more about Bliss at and Sweet P’s Barbecue at

The Sunsphere Fund is operated and overseen by Visit Knoxville. Donations can be made at

About Sweet P’s Barbecue
Sweet P’s Barbecue started in 2009 by Chris Ford. Today, Sweet P’s remains a family business dedicated to providing a classic Southern experience with some of the best barbecue in the region. Sweet P’s Downtown Dive, located at 410 W. Jackson Ave., was borne from love of classic American dive bars and barbecue joints and carries on the tradition of the company’s Southern heritage. The first full service Sweet P’s, the Uptown Corner, opened in Fountain City in 2021. Menu items are made daily using the highest quality fresh ingredients. For more information, visit Follow Sweet P’s BBQ and Downtown Dive and Sweet P’s Uptown Corner on Facebook and @sweetpbbq on Twitter and Instagram.