As springtime finally comes around in Southeast Texas, residents look forward to celebrating the return of warmer weather the best way possible – at the YMBL South Texas State Fair.
The opening ceremony of the largest fair in the area starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24, and now in its 68th year, the event is geared up for another outstanding 12 days filled with fun, food and entertainment.
The fair can be traced back as far as 1907, and for nearly 100 years, the event had a long run as a fall fair. It has seen a number of names in that time – starting out as the Beaumont Fair, then Southeast Texas State Fair, South Texas State Fair and finally the YMBL South Texas State Fair – and has only been canceled once because of Hurricane Rita in 2005. In 2008, Hurricane Ike was nearly responsible for another cancellation, but fair officials decided to move the event to the spring and have been happy with the change since.
The YMBL fair has been a long-standing tradition in the Southeast Texas community, bringing in visitors from all walks of life with entertainment that will keep all fair-goers busy.
“It’s good family fun. It’s a tradition in Southeast Texas,” said Pat Riley, media relations liaison. “You hear all the time from people that used to go with their grandparents, and now those people are grandparents and they’re taking their grandkids and great grandkids to the fair. It’s a great way to make some memories.”
Riley said Ford Park will be filled to near capacity with over 250 booths dishing out exotic and intriguing dishes made for easy eating on the go – funnel cakes, cheesecake-on-a-stick, pork kabobs, rabbit-on-a-stick, fried alligator and fried pickles, to name just a few – just be sure not to fill up on too much cotton candy before hitting the Carnival Midway. But while enjoying a stroll through the park grounds, there will be plenty of vendors’ booths available with all kinds of trinkets and goods available for purchase.
Along with the vast array of food booths and vendors, there will also be a vast array of shows. Texas Marine will have more than 40 boats on display in the Ford Exhibit Hall, in addition to an auto show sponsored by Texas Ford Dealers. There will be art, quilt and photo shows featuring art from various schools in Southeast Texas, with cash prizes going to the winners of the photography contest.
Also being featured is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Sanctioned Rodeo that will take place Friday, April 1, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 2, at 5 p.m. The PRCA showcases the country’s top cowboys and cowgirls, and the event is sure to bring the excitement and intensity inherent in the rodeo.In the livestock barns, purebred cattle, poultry, rabbits and junior livestock exhibits will be on display throughout the duration of the fair.
One of the top attractions for youngsters is in the livestock barns – the Children’s Barnyard. Fair officials expect thousands of families to come through the attraction with children getting the chance to hold some animals like baby ducks and chicks.
Also for patrons enjoyment, there will be the Miller Lite Beer Garden that will provide a relaxing atmosphere to sip a cold drink while listening to the tunes of the many bands lined up to play during the fair.
Among the bands scheduled to perform at the YMBL South Texas State Fair are The Bryce Shaver Band, Marcia Ball, Still Cruisin’, Arabian Night Belly Dancers, and The Kaiser Brothers.
As always, there will be specials run throughout the fair, like opening night when there will be free admission to everyone attending the opening ceremonies at the Archway Entrance, and the Carnival Midway will also offer a special – $20 for unlimited ride wristbands. Other special days will be Kids’ Days, Spring Break Holiday, Conn’s Ladies Night, Advantage HomeCare Senior Citizens Day, HEB Night, Sonic “Two for One” Buddy Night, and Cantastic Sunday. For information about the specials, see www.ymbl.org.