State Fair Attendance Declines

For ninety years, the East Texas State Fair has been an institution in Tyler. Each year, thousands of people walk through the gates, but this year attendance is down.

Alice Emmons, who has been the General Manager for the fair for ten years, said, "We're about 52% of where we were last year- and it's because of the storm."

When Rita's remnants blew through last weekend the fair was forced to close. Lucretia Lamb works for the City of Tyler and takes a week of vacation each year to work her booth at the fair.

She says, "Saturday hurt! The rain, the weather, it hurts us."

Managers are extending the fair through Sunday hoping to make up for the lost revenue.

Emmons said, "We hope that we can make it up. About 80% of our yearly income comes from The East Texas State Fair."

The East Texas State Fair was not the only one affected by the recent storms. Lufkin's fair had to be postponed until this week because of Rita. Gregg county used their exhibit hall to house Katrina evacuees, meaning fair vendors had no place to set up. When that fair was over, attendance was down twenty-five percent. So far in Tyler, vendors have been disappointed with the early turnout. Now that it has cooled off and dried out, vendors are optimistic business will pick up.

Trinity Lutheran Church sells homemade pies at the fair and the money they raise goes to missions and outreach.

Donna Mendez works the booth and said, " Maybe people who didn't get a chance to get out last weekend will come on out this weekend."