The Gregg County Fair will mark its 70th anniversary Sept. 6 to 14 with the return of fair favorites and new attractions.
“It’s good family friendly entertainment and they get to come out together,” said Billy Clay, the fair’s longtime general manager. “It’s just the fair atmosphere that comes once a year, and all the LED lights and stuff going on, and I think that it gives everybody that fun feeling to come out and enjoy themselves.”
Gates open at 6 p.m. on weekdays and 4 p.m. on weekends, with the midway offering food, rides and a petting zoo.
Clay has overseen the fair for the past 35 years. It’s such a large undertaking that planning for next year’s fair will start before this one ends.
“When I see a kid walking out the front gate with a teddy bear in their hand and a smile on their face I’m ready to do it again,” he said.
Todd Armstrong Shows is bringing 30 rides, Clay said. For the younger children, such rides as the classic carousel will be popular, as well as an elephant ride and motorcycle ride, both that go in a circle, he said.
Top rides for adolescents, young adults or the young at heart include the Himalaya, Giant Wheel, Zipper and the Super Shot, which takes its riders 100 feet in the air before it free falls.
The midway always includes a place to quench an appetite with foods not available at any other times than at the fair, Clay said.
“We’ve got all kinds of food, but the most popular food out there is the turkey legs and sausage on a stick,” Clay said. “We have funnel cakes, Mexican food, Italian, snow cones and cotton candy.”
Another big seller is corn on the cob roasted with the shuck on. Fairgoers can personalize it by adding their own toppings.
“Butter, salt, pepper, they’ve got anything in the world out there,” Clay said.
This year’s fair won’t include the pig races featured in years past, but it will instead include a new pony race that Clay hopes will be just as exciting.
“They are baby miniature ponies that race around a track like the pig race,” he said. “I have never seen it, but they tell me it is spectacular to see. These cute little ponies running around — I think they will be a hit. I’m 100 percent sure they will be well-received in Longview. Who knows? They might have a permanent home in Longview.”
Another huge hit at the fair is the petting zoo, which is free with the price of admission. Animals inside the petting zoo include reindeer, turtles, llamas, zebras, camels, ostriches and more. Camel rides are available inside the petting zoo for an additional cost.
Miss Gregg County will be crowned between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday on the main stage. The contestants represent the seven high schools of Gregg County.
A variety of entertainment will be offered each night, including Elvis Impersonator Josh Davis, who will take the stage from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday on the main stage.
The Longview Exhibit Building will house 100 exhibitors selling a variety of products, such as jewelry, Avon and knives.
The fair has been sponsored by the Longview Jaycees since 1933.
“We have scholarships we give away, we help with all kinds of projects in the city. We help at Christmastime, at Thanksgivingtime. We assist with the elderly,” he said. “There is not too much we don’t do if somebody needs help.”