Fair chairman John Sykes said that despite the impact of inflation on families, the attractions were still busier than ever.
“Our entries this year for all of our competitions – in some areas they have even quadrupled the number of people participating in our floral cutting, horticulture, arts and crafts and even our cattle show,” Sykes explained.
The East Texas State Fair welcomed more than 250,000 visitors this year, which about the same as last year. Sykes said it was an amazing surprise to see after worries of less space on the fairgrounds.
“With construction happens herewe have lost our footprint significantly and to turn that around and have the carnival set an all-time attendance and turnout record is truly phenomenal,” Sykes said.
He said there was a slower start with the heat, but once the temperatures cooled attendance soared.
The fair also broke records in carnival rides and food, with more people spending money despite pocket-sore inflation.
“Cost was really an issue that we looked at and studied and made sure we were doing our best to keep prices low,” Sykes said.
Although they were able to maintain ticket prices, further increases were inevitable.
“Some food products had to increase. I mean, it costs so much. For example, turkey thighs. Turkey legs were the most expensive at the fair this year,” Sykes added.
However, the money from the fair is used to make a difference.
“We have two specific scholarship programs. One is committed to Tyler Junior College. The other is Academic Rodeo, which is open to any university in the world,” Sykes explained.
Sykes said the post-fair cleanup process takes one to two weeks and can be a tiring process.
On top of that, he said they are already hard at work planning the 2023 Texas State Fair.