The 160th Ogle County Fair set an all-time attendance record this year with an estimated 18,500 people turning out for the carnival rides, livestock and other exhibits, fair food, and the popular grandstand events.
"It was excellent," said fair board president Harlan Holm on Tuesday. "It's a small county fair but we had people there from all over the world."
Besides local visitors, the 5-day event, July 31 through Aug. 4, drew folks from Iowa, Florida, and even Germany, England, and Australia, he said.
The previous record attendance was 16,500.
Saturday drew the largest crowd — 5,000 people — not counting those with tickets to a pork chop barbecue that evening or those who bought their tickets in advance.
Holm attributed the record crowd to picture-perfect weather, family-friendly prices and activities, as well as the perennial popularity of the demolition derby, which was held Saturday night.
The mercury hovered in the upper 70s to lower 80s with low humidity and only a few sprinkles throughout the fair.
"The temperatures were comfortable and that makes for a very good fair," Holm said. "The free rides with paid gate admission is working very well. We had long lines at the rides on Saturday. The demolition derby appeared to have the largest crowd in several years."
The grandstands, which hold 2,600 people, were filled to capacity for the demolition derby.
The Ogle County Pork Producers prepared an estimated 2,400 barbecued pork chops and ran out on Saturday night, he said.
The only downside was the need for more volunteers to assist with Saturday's crowd.
But, Holm said, that was solved when several fair visitors rolled up their sleeves.
"I can't thank all of our volunteers enough," he said. "People pitched in Saturday to help with the crowd.
Some visitors from Iowa even came and asked what they could do to help." Besides Saturday's crowd, the other days of the fair also saw their share of visitors.
Attendance was up on opening day Wednesday and closing day on Sunday, with normal attendance on Thursday and Friday.
Several other events drew the approval of the audience, he said, such as the tractor pull on Thursday and the mud bog races on Sunday, a brand new attraction.
"The tractor-pull was a crowd-pleaser, and the mud bog races were well-attended. The crowd enjoyed that," Holm said. "That's what we're here for is to see people have a good time." Plans are already underway for the 2014 fair.
"We're already working on next year's," Holm said with a grin.