Rodeo, rides & anything fried

Rodeo, rides & anything fried

Though it wasn’t much of a winter, springtime is in the air and that means one thing — the YMBL South Texas State Fair at Ford Park.  

The opening ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, and now in its 69th year, the event is geared up for another outstanding 11 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. 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.

Kids of all ages will once again enjoy the carnival midway, which will be provided by the Fort Worth-based Carnival Americana.

Over 250 commercial exhibitors and concessionaires will dish 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, fried pickles, plus the always appetizing fried Snickers, Twinkies, Ding Dongs and anything else you can imagine being dipped into grease.

Along with the vast array of food booths and vendors, inside the Ford Exhibit will be more than 100 vendors selling collectibles, home improvements items, jewelry, clothing and more. Texas Marine will have more than 40 boats on display in the Ford Exhibit Hall, in addition to art, quilt and photo shows featuring art from various schools in Southeast Texas, with cash prizes going to the winners of the photography contest.

In the Ford Pavilion will be the popular Kids Fun Zone, featuring a scaled-down carnival for the youngsters as well as the Double R Exotics Petting Zoo and both camel and pony rides.

Also being featured is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Sanctioned Rodeo that will take place Friday, March 30, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 31, at 5 p.m. The rodeo is free with the purchase of a fair admission ticket on the same day.

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.

Among the bands scheduled to perform at the YMBL South Texas State Fair are J.A.G., Jenny & The Reincarnations, Louisiana Scramble, Lisa Marshall Band, Night & Day Orchestra, Kenny Wiebusch, Toni Harrison, Rock-N-Horse, Neil to Aldrin, The Beat Daddy’s, Hamilton Loomis and many others.

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 (5:30-6 p.m.) and the Carnival Midway will also offer a special – $20 for unlimited ride wristbands. Other special days will be Teacher Appreciation (March 23), Kids’ Days (March 24, 31), Senior Day (March 25), HEB $1 Night (March 26), Conn’s Ladies Night (March 27), Sonic 2-for-1 Buddy Night (March 28) and Cantastic Sunday (April 1). For information about the specials, see ymbl.org.

Regular admission prices into the YMBL South Texas State Fair are $8 for adults, $4 for students ages 11-17 and senior citizens 65 years or older, and free for children 10 and under. The fair will run March 22 through April 1 and proceeds will go to the many programs of the YMBL.

Ford Park is located at 5115 IH-10 South in Beaumont.

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