68th East Texas Yamboree Begins!

Normally a population of 5,000, Gilmer's East Texas Yamboree is so popular nearly a hundred thousand people are expected to descend on the small town for the next four days. "It's known all over the United States. People from California, Utah, Wyoming, Virginia, everywhere," says Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joan Small.
This year expect some of the newest and most exciting rides and attractions. Something that never gets old for Gilmer resident, Cheyenne Johnson, who's been coming to the festival since 1936.   
"What are some of your most fondest memories of the Yamboree festival?," asks KLTV 7 Reporter Christine Nelson to Johnson.
He replies, "When my grand kids were small enough to ride the rides, well I helped them ride the rides but I don't do that anymore."
Larry Johnson attended the Yamboree for the last forty years and adds, "It's just tradition. It's been going on so long. My family has been coming here for generations now."
And a new generation of Yamboree goers filled today's livestock show. Training their animals months in advanced to hopefully sell at auction this Saturday. "With grand champion you can make up to $2,000 with it," says 16-year-old Chad Simpson who showed two swine. He hopes to buy a truck with his winnings.
One thing that is new is what's called the "yam cam." It is a camera perched atop one of the downtown buildings in Gilmer. You can go on to the world wide web and look at all the activities that's going at the Yamboree Festival live. "People that can't come and be here, that just gives them a little bit of home," says Small. It's why the East Texas Yamboree is considered the biggest, little homecoming in Texas, a tradition that's not likely to end anytime soon.
This year's Yam Queen is Katie Mannis. A Queen's Coronation will take place Thursday night at 7:30 at the Civic Center. The Queen's parade is Saturday at 11 a.m. The barn dance at the Trinity Street Gym in Gilmer is at 8 p.m. Saturday.
To check out "yam cam", click on the 'Know More on 7' icon on our homepage. There, you'll find the link to the 68th East Texas Yamboree "Yam Cam".

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com