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Texas State Forest Festival begins in Lufkin with adjustments, recommendations due to COVID-19

Texas State Forest Festival returns this weekend at George H Henderson Jr Expo Center
Texas State Forest Festival returns this weekend at George H Henderson Jr Expo Center(all use)
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2021 at 11:32 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The Texas State Forest Festival is back after being a one-day-only event in Downtown Lufkin last year. CEO of Lufkin Angelina County Chamber of Commerce Tara Watson said she’s been planning for the past 10 months and has implemented some changes.

“Because of the fact that our numbers were rising in Angelina County, we felt like it was best that we did not have any group competitions, so unfortunately we had to postpone the 50th annual Southern Hush Puppy Championships, the barbecue competition, and the cheer and pong, as well as the car show because we just wanted to keep everyone that was here as safe as possible,” Watson-Watkins said.

Watson-Watkins said she’s been attending the festival since she was a child. She recognizes many residents look forward to attending, but she recommends this year guests wear a mask.

“Legally we can’t require everyone to wear a mask. We are asking people to wear a mask. But with it being outside and all open we’re hoping that people will just, you know, keep their families all together,” Watson-Watkins said.

The sea lion splash, carnival, and the petting zoo are just some of the activities being offered at this year’s event. Raymond Shelton is excited for audiences to interact with the animals at the petting zoo, especially after a challenging year his business has had due to the pandemic.

“It really did present a hardship because in 2019 we did 158 street events and in 2020 we did about 15,” Shelton said.

Shelton says 2021 is looking more promising for his business.

“We feed about 100 animals, whether they are working or not. And there wasn’t any income coming in in 2020 on these animals. But we’ve managed to stretch our finances and we’re still in business,” Shelton said.

The general admission price for the Texas State Forest Festival has been reduced from $6 to $3 due to the group activities being postponed.

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