You know, the East Texas State Fair definitely has features that bring people in from outside the immediate area.
Fans of particular musical acts always follow their touring schedule and make the trip to come and see their performances. Kids from all over town will see the bright lights of the carnival and beg their parents for a night of fun at the midway.
However there is one area of the East Texas State Fair that outstrips all others when it comes to bringing in fans from far away: the livestock show.
This year, just like many others, there are more than 700 entries and exhibitors in the livestock show. They have traveled to Tyler from all over.
That means we've got bulls from El Paso, chickens from Louisiana, lambs from Florida and longhorns from Corpus Christi, for starters.
Out of the 1,865 entries and 721 exhibitors, most of them aren't from around here.
They come from all over, and for a host of reasons. In the open shows, anyone is eligible to show their livestock. You have people coming in from all over this part of the country, making the circuit between fairs and shows throughout Texas, Oklahoma and beyond, hoping to earn honors for their prized animal. The East Texas State Fair is a great place to earn awards against excellent competition, while keeping a familial atmosphere among competitors seeking to add value to their wares.
However, the biggest draws are from the Junior Livestock shows, and everyone who is a member of a Texas FFA or 4H Club is eligible. That draws crowds from every corner of our great state, bringing in kids from the smallest towns to the biggest cities to compete for top honors.
There are some who are just learning the trade and some who are "chasing points" within the Texas Junior Livestock Association for the chance at awards at the end of the year. The East Texas State Fair is a great stop for all of the junior participants because it offers them the chance to go up against a high level of competition to prepare them for some of the large shows, like the State Fair in Dallas, but without the added pressure of a show sale at the end. There is still a healthy amount of competition, but the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed and family friendly.
And the livestock show is certainly not just for the participants. In fact, it draws people from outside the city, and plenty of interested onlookers, and it's not hard to see why. The East Texas State Fair offers families and children a chance to get up close and personal with animals they'd never otherwise get to see, and the kids eat it up. Though if you ask the fair staff, they'll tell you that the lambs, goats and longhorns are particular favorites.
There are many reasons to come to the East Texas State Fair, from food and drink to music and shows.
But for those looking to experience something outside their everyday life in Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville or any of the surrounding areas, the short trip livestock show might just be just what you were looking for.