Last Few Years For Century-Old Fairground - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

09/05/07-Tyler

Last Few Years For Century-Old Fairground

The East Texas State Fair opens in just two weeks, and there's more in store this year. 

New rides, new food, and some big changes to the schedule.

Why the fair may not be in the same spot on Front Street for much longer.

"We're still operating on the same postage stamp [-sized plot of land] -- same footprint to this day than they were doing in 1948, and '38, and '28," said East Texas State Fair CEO John Sykes.

This year and next, the fair will still be on Front Street.  But they want to make this year's event bigger now.

Senior Citizens' Day will open the Fair on Thursday.  The full Fair opens Friday, so there will be no more "Sneak-a-peek" night. 

Livestock shows open later in day each day for more crowds to see.  And there will be new rides and a larger stage, including amazing ventriloquist Terry Fator performing.  More food, even alligator and gumbo will be served.

It's what lies beyond this year and next that is most exciting and daunting to those organizing each year's event.

"I think Tyler's ready for the next-generation multi-purpose events center -- one that would bring conferences and concerts," says Tyler Economic Development Council President Tom Mullins.

Hundreds of acres in west Tyler are expected to be developed as a massive fairground for the future.

"There are concerts. There are rodeos, and there are festivals.  Anything that the mind can possibly think of [can be held at the new site,]" Sykes said.

"We're long overdue for something like that. We've been talking about it, making plans for a number of years, and now we're really starting to get close to some recommendations," Mullins added.

Details aren't clear yet, and it's still several years away, but as folks visit this year, those in charge want them to know change is coming.

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