South Texas State Fair

South Texas State Fair

Funnel cakes, turkey legs, alligator on a stick. Then have some pork kabobs, donut burgers, candy apples, popcorn and a plethora of fried snacks. Just about anything you can think of to eat is available from more than 75 food vendors at the 74th annual South Texas State Fair on the grounds of Ford Park, which begins Thursday, March 30, with the 10-day festival of fun ending Sunday, April 9.

Gates will open at 6 p.m. next Thursday, and there is literally something for everyone. Some come for the food. Some come for the games, carnival rides, exhibits, live music and the rodeo.

Folks at the YMBL have partnered with Outlaw Nation Red Dirt Revival to bring in some of the best of regional entertainment both weekends of the Fair.

Friday, March 31, performing will be Will Carter and Steve Griggs Band. Then April 1, it’s a full day of music with Hillbilly Vegas, Mike Daniels Band and Hannah Belle.

The following weekend, Matt and the Herdsmen will perform April 7 with the Cody Wayne Band, and April 8 will see performances by Jack Nelson Band, Lauren Alexander and Jeff Jacobs Band.

In addition to new music, the Paul Bunyun Lumberjack Show will be held every day on the Patio stage. This action-packed show features log rolling, log rolling dogs, chopping, sawing, axe throwing, dragster chainsaw, and tree climbing by world champion lumberjacks.

Some of the favorites are returning including the H-E-B Kids Fun Zone; the Exotics Petting Zoo with nearly every animal you can think of — from the most exotic to farm animals, with camel and pony rides; the Texas Marine Boat Show with more than 40 on display; Miller Lite Beer Garden; Exhibit Hall indoor shopping with more than 100 vendors selling collectables, home improvement items, cell phones, jewelry and purses; plus the Swifty Swine Racing Pigs are sure to entertain and put a smile on your face.

The Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) will hold two rodeos inside Ford Arena, one on Friday, March 31, at 7 p.m., and another Saturday, April 1, at 5 p.m. General admission seating is free with the purchase of a fair ticket.

The PRCA showcases the country’s top cowboys and cowgirls and promotes high quality, professional rodeo. To ensure high standards of rodeo entertainment, “Nutty” Jerry Nelson, a native of Southeast Texas, will again be providing the stock for the rodeo. Owner of Frontier Rodeo, Nelson has the top stock in the rodeo world. Eight-time world champion Don Gay will provide the play-by-play.

March 30 (opening day), the YMBL will host the Harold Engstrom Memorial Special Kids Rodeo at 10 a.m. Named after the late Harold Engstrom, who started this annual event, the primary goal is for hundreds of mentally and or physically challenged youngsters from the area to attend this special outing.

The South Texas State Fair continues the 50-plus year tradition it established with the Bill Hames Show by offering an exciting and fun-filled Carnival Midway provided by Fort Worth based Carnival Americana. Fair-goers will again enjoy their favorite rides plus some new and exciting experiences. Admission to the fair for adults aged 13-64 is $8, while senior citizens over the age of 65 pay $4. Youth ages 3-12 are $4, and kids 2 and younger get in free.

There are plenty of promotional nights, beginning Opening Night, March 30, where everyone gets in free; Kids’ Day is April 1 where kids 17 and under get in free from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Fair Share for Hunger Sunday is April 2, and fairgoers are admitted free when bringing six non-perishable cans of food, which will be donated to the Southeast Texas Food Bank. April 3 is Koch Pipeline Night as you can enter the fair for $1 with a coupon available from area Neches Federal Credit Union locations. April 4 is $2 Tuesday Night with a coupon from ymbl.org. April 5, take advantage of free admission with a coupon from educationfirstfcu.org. Military Appreciation Night is April 6, sponsored by ZTE Wireless, allowing free admission for active, retired and reserve military, National Guard, disabled veterans and active first responders, along with their dependents (valid ID required). And finally, Closing Day is Coca-Cola/Dr. Pepper Cantasctic Sunday on April 9, with those bringing in an empty six-pack of Coca-Cola product receive free admission.

Since 1957, the South Texas State Fair, which is the YMBL’s only yearly fundraiser, has attracted an estimated attendance of more than half a million annually from 10 counties in Southeast Texas and three Southwest Louisiana parishes. Although a nonprofit committee of the YMBL, the fair provides its sponsoring organization with more than 90 percent of its total revenue, which the YMBL shares with the community in direct gifts to area charitable organizations, youth projects, civic programs and other efforts to aid the elderly and those in need.

For complete fair information, call (409) 832-9991 or view ymbl.org.

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