The fair’s president, John Sykes, said despite families being impacted by inflation, the attractions still saw a bigger turnout than ever.
“Our entries this year in all of our contests– in some areas, they even quadrupled the number of people participating in our Floral Cup, our horticulture, arts and crafts and even our livestock show,” explained Sykes.
The East Texas State Fair saw more than 250,000 visitors this year, which was about the same as last year. Sykes said it was an amazing surprise to see after concerns of less space on the fair grounds.
“With the construction going on out here, we’ve lost our footprint substantially and to turn it around and have the carnival set an all-time record on attendance and participation is truly phenomenal,” said Sykes.
He said there was a slower start with the heat but once the temperatures cooled down, attendance skyrocketed.
The fair also broke records in carnival rides and food, with more people spending money despite inflation hurting pockets.
“The cost was truly an issue that we looked at and studied and made sure that we did the best job we could to hold prices down,” said Sykes.
While they were able to keep ticket prices the same, other increases were unavoidable.
“Certain food items had to increase. I mean, it just cost so much. For example, turkey legs. Turkey legs were the most expensive at the fair this year that they ever have been,” added Sykes.
However, the money from the fair does go towards making a difference.
“We’ve got two specific scholarship programs. One is committed to Tyler Junior College. The other one is Academic Rodeo, which is open to any university anywhere,” explained Sykes.
Sykes said the cleaning process after the fair takes one to two weeks, and can be a tiring process.
On top of that, he said they are also already hard at work planning the 2023 East Texas State Fair.