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East Texas State Fair opens for 106th year

Familiar favorites and new features joined together as gates officially opened Friday afternoon

TYLER, Texas — The East Texas State Fair officially opened Friday afternoon, kicking off with Senior day featuring free admission for those 60 years and older.

Visitors can look forward to the return of familiar favorites such as food row, carnival rides, art shows, livestock competitions, and more.

East Texas State Fair President and CEO John Sykes said a new educational exhibit called "Ag-venture" will replace the former petting zoo.

"We put a lot of effort into our Ag-Venture program," Sykes said. "We have goat mountain, a dairy and beef display, and eggs hatching like we've had for several years."

Another exhibit called "butterfly encounters" will offer an up-close look at nature as more than 150 butterflies fluttering freely can be hand fed by visitors. 

Deborah Lurie, who operates the butterfly encounter said this gives the opportunity to teach children and adults about Monarch butterflies, which were recently placed on the endangered list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

"We take all of the butterflies, do a 'one, two, three' and let them go," Lurie said.

Vendors such as Roy Bell, with Trinity Lutheran Church, said his group has been selling pies at the fair since the 1950s.

"We enjoy being here, it's one of our highlights of the year," Bell said.

The East Texas State Fair will run from September 23rd to October 2nd. Fair hours are from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends. Admission is free for lunch on weekdays. 

Fair admission for children under five is free, youth (six to 12 years old) will be $6 and adults are $10. 

Students 18 years and younger can take advantage of free tickets Monday Sept. 26th to Wednesday Sept. 28th until 7 p.m.

Military and Veterans can enjoy free admission on Monday, September 26th.

UT Tyler Day will be held on Thursday, September 29th with free admission for any college student with a valid ID until 7 p.m.

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