Gregg County Fair overcomes past slumps

Posted by Morgan Chesky - bio | email
By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Rain again puts a damper on an East Texas fair that has had its lean years in the past. But more importantly, the 60th Gregg County Fair raises money for numerous worthy causes. In spite of a steady rain, visitors still came out for the final day of the fair.

"[Attendance is] down a bit but not really enough to hurt us as bad as it did last year," says fair manager Billy Clay.

Past fairs have been hampered by rains and housing evacuees from hurricanes, often eating into the money that would have been used for numerous charities and causes.

"We borrowed ten thousand dollars for Katrina which we still don't have paid off all the way around," Clay adds.

Many who come to the fair every year to support it probably don't know exactly hot much the Jaycees help in their own community. The Jaycees fund efforts like Christmas and thanksgiving food drives, F.F.A and college scholarships, youth sports. They even pay the electric bills of the elderly.

"We're not going to stop wherever we end up at we're going to make our commitments," Clay says.

But regardless of whether the fair earns a fortune, or loses a fortune, the Jaycees say they'll find a way to help their causes.

"If I tell a young kid that he's got a two thousand dollar school scholarship and we bottom out tonight , the kids still going to get his $2,000 scholarship," says Clay ,"either borrow the money, pass the hat, or what and if we tell you we're going to do it , we're going to do it, I'm not going to turn anybody away."

Clay says it will take another two or three good fairs to break even from the losses of the past. Donations for their charities can be made to the Longview Jaycees.