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East Texas Yamboree celebration brings Gilmer community together

The Yamboree is back after being canceled last year due to the pandemic. It runs from Oct. 20- 23

GILMER, Texas — Texas' second oldest tradition is back!

The 84th East Texas Yamboree kicks of Wednesday night with the coronation of this year's Yam Queen elect, Miss Hannah Henson.

This event is held to celebrate the yam, or as it's most commonly known, the sweet potato.

Organizers of the event say they usually expect over 100,000 to come to town this weekend. This is Gilmer's largest tradition and homecoming event. 

The downtown square was blocked off Monday night so the carnival could get set up. Businesses along the downtown corridor decorated their windows with previous Yam Queen dresses that will be on display all weekend long.

"I'm just blown away at how big it's become," Joel Murry, 84th Yamboree President said. "I believe it's so popular because there's something for everybody. Livestock show, carnivals, pageants, parades. And it's also a big homecoming for Upshur County and people come back, no matter where they've moved from, oftentimes, they'll come back year after year for this event." 

Murry is this year's Yamboree president. His family has a longtime history of serving on the board and organizing the event. 

He says this is the event that everyone looks forward to year after year and this time it will be extra special because they had to cancel last year due to the pandemic.

"It's just a time for all families to come back together and be together for four days and just enjoy everything that's going on," Former Yam Queen Nan Fowler said.

Fowler was co-queen with her twin sister in 1979. Every year Fowler is involved in the Yamboree committee.

This year she will lead the parade alongside her sister Ann, but they won't be the only pair of royal twins.

Runner-ups, Emma Page & Sarah Michelle Warden will be the second pair to run for queen since Nan and Ann in 1979.

There's something for everyone, below you can find a full schedule of events. For more on this year's Yamboree visit their website.

Credit: East Texas Yamboree