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Fair opens tonight

For the expected 25,000 Southeast Arkansas District Fair and Rodeo goers, this year brings a few changes, including a delay in the official fair start day and the annual parade has moved from Monday to Thursday.

Traditionally, the fair gates opened Monday, the week of the fair. After 73 years, the district fair will not kickoff until tonight (Tuesday) evening with Family Night, said Southeast Arkansas Livestock Association President Dale Dixon. The fair’s opening was delayed by a day so that the carnival ride operators and vendors would have two days to tear their equipment down at the Drew County Fair in Monticello, after it closed Saturday night and be ready for business by Tuesday evening in Pine Bluff.

“They were pushed too hard to be ready on Monday,” he said.

Instead of a national rodeo organization, Dixon said the Southeast Arkansas District Fair and Rodeo officials decided to host the Arkansas Rodeo Association Finals.

“The top 15 cowboys in each class will compete for the title of best cowboy in the state, and it will be a wonderful show,” he said.

The cowboy competition begins Thursday evening after the Southeast Arkansas Livestock Rodeo Parade, which starts 4:45 p.m. and travels through downtown Pine Bluff.

The Gospel Music Talent Show begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with the Everybody’s Talent Show starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The Southeast Arkansas District Talent Show finals are scheduled for Saturday at 6:30 p.m., along with the crowning of the Rodeo Queen.

For local football fans, Midnite Madness starts at 10 p.m. Friday night and doesn’t end until 2 a.m.

“The fair’s a great place to go after the football game,” he said.

Dixon said he believes this year will be one of their best, in part because of the installation of a new $20,000 LED lighting and sound systems at Hestand Stadium.

“We want to invite everyone out to this year’s fair and rodeo,” he said.