LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Over the past five days, thousands of people filled the George H. Henderson Expo Center to partake in live entertainment, carnival, and delicious foods during the 35th Annual Texas State Forest Festival.
“We are thrilled with the turnout. Up until today, we’ve had about 12,000 people come through the gates, which is great especially for the weather that we had this week. You know, Wednesday and Thursday were both rainy, however, Wednesday we had about 2,300 people come through even with the bad weather,” said Tara Watson Watkins, President, and CEO of the Lufkin Chamber of Commerce.
Not only did the festival attract local residents from surrounding communities, but it also attracted attendees from out of town.
“I’ve met couples that saw our ad in Texas Highways, and they came in from McKinney, and Dallas, and Richardson, Oklahoma and we even had someone from Romania that happened to be passing through and stopped at the festival,” said Watson Watkins.
Including Lufkin resident Mark Maddox who said attending the festival every year is a tradition for his family.
“I’ve come out every year since they’ve had it. It’s just a great family event. Come out and let the kids play, ride some rides. They love to go to the petting zoo and see all of the animals over there. And it’s just a great family event,” said Maddox.
Watson Watkins said incorporating new events also contributed to a successful festival.
“Well, we know that in order to keep the Forest Festival going that we have to stay relevant and bring in new events that will attract new people to our event, so we were very thrilled to bring kind of a healthy aspect and to bring in a new 5K and 1 mile, as well as the new lumberjack and fitness challenges.”
For the first time in almost 70 years, the parade was also held this year for the Forest Festival.