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Gilmer's East Texas Yamboree kicks off Wednesday

The carnival doors open on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. following many other various events like the queen’s coronation, parades and livestock shows.

GILMER, Texas — The city of Gilmer will kick off its 85th East Texas Yamboree this Wednesday. A four-day event celebrating yams and bringing tourism and excitement to the city every year. 

Diana Seahorn, who is a cosmetologist at Charm Beauty Salon, said she moved to East Texas in 1976 and her daughter once participated in the Queen's Pageant 20 years ago. 

Seahorn said the salon has seen an increase of income every year with the pageant.  

"People come into town, maybe they want to get their hair done or people who are in the pageant or the queen's ball or anything such as that," said Seahorn. "You start them on Sunday, and you [style] them for the entire week."

This year’s East Texas Yamboree crowned Caroline Dean as this year's yam queen and shares a bit of the festival’s history and how it all started in 1935. 

"The first Yamboree at each business locally would have a bucket for each of the girls that were running," Dean said. "You would go to those businesses and put in a penny for the girl that you wanted to win queen."

Today, each girl participating to become queen goes around to local businesses to sell raffle tickets, queen coronation tickets and barn dance tickets.

The girl who raises the most money during that time period is the one that's crowned the queen.

Jordan Glaze, who is the president of this year’s Yamboree, said the festival also includes parades, livestock shows and even a carnival. 

"There's just stuff all week off and on there's a schedule in either the books that they pass out are on our website," said Glaze. 

So now for the big question: What is a yam?

"A yam to me is a sweet potato," Seahorn said. "But I think there is supposed to be a difference in the yam and a sweet potato, but I honestly really don't know what the difference."

"It is sweet potato," Dean said. "I don't have that much but when I do I love them like in sweet potato pies."

The carnival doors open on Wednesday at 6 p.m. following many other various events like the queen’s coronation. 

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