A file photo shows middle school students from Tyler Classical Academy compete in the Academic Challenge Quiz at the East Texas State Fairgrounds on Thursday Feb. 1, 2018. The Academic Challenge Quiz is a team quiz bowl presented in two levels — Middle School for grades 6 through 8 and High School for grades 9 through 12. Each team consists of 6 students with four competing in a match. The Middle School level is a double-elimination tournament. Pictured from left: Taylor Wood, Logan Stelter, Edwin Sanchez and Grace Ann McDonald. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Every year, The Park of East Texas presents two events: the East Texas State Fair and the Academic Rodeo. Proceeds from the annual East Texas State Fair in September help fund the Academic Rodeo, made up of 14 contests occurring over several weeks in November, January, and February each year.

Although The Park of East Texas canceled the fair due to COVID-19, plans are moving forward for the 31st Academic Rodeo. Schools and groups may register through Oct. 15.

Entries for submission-only events, the art contest, “Kinder Critters” contest, and the writing contest, will occur in late October and November. A virtual Mindset Breaking Experience preliminary contest will occur in November, but all other contests will occur either virtually, or with very strict social distancing and limited attendance formats in January and February.

According to a news release by The East Texas State Fair: “It will be a different year, but still an outstanding opportunity for students to be involved outside the classroom and show off their incredible talents in a broad range of academic areas.”

Approximately 1,800 to 2,000 students have competed in past years, representing approximately 100 schools or groups. Groups can be public, private, or home schools and 4-H county programs or clubs.

The Academic Rodeo is available for schools and groups with no participation fees. It is funded solely through proceeds from the East Texas State Fair and sponsors. Volunteers provide the personnel to judge each contest and provide technical assistance with some events.

Volunteer groups include American Association of University Women, Discover Science Place, Smith County Extension Education Association, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, The University of Texas at Tyler Computing Center and School of Education and Psychology, Tyler Civic Theatre, and Tyler Junior College. Various other individuals also assist with contests.

For more information about the Academic Rodeo, visit www.etstatefair.com and click on “Academic Rodeo,” or contact East Texas State Fair at 903-597-2501.

Digital Multimedia Journalist

Ben Fenton is a digital multimedia journalist that has worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph since 2019. He is from Lindale, Texas and holds a Bachelors in Digital Media and a Masters in Communication.

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