Even without the added day Monday at The Big Fresno Fair, officials say, attendance was up and concessionaires raked in more money, too.
Last year's attendance of 577,480 was eclipsed by at least 4% this year, said John Alkire, the fair's chief executive officer.
The concessionaires brought in more than 7% from last year, according to Alkire's preliminary projections. Those numbers do not include Monday, the final day of the fair's 13-day run, which is one more day than last year's fair.
"Today will be the icing on the cake and it will be great for our partners," Alkire said Monday. "As of (Sunday) night we pretty much beat last year hands down in every category."
Alkire credits good weather, a diverse entertainment lineup and people looking to stay close to home because the local economy has not fully recovered from the recession.
Four fair shows sold out this year compared with one or two on average and horse racing remained strong despite troubles in the horse racing industry, he said.
"Fewer people are breeding fewer horses so there is a smaller herd and the numbers are not as great to draw from, but we feel very fortunate we were able to pull off a nice, positive meet," Alkire said.
It is still the fair's mission, he said, to bring something new to Fresno every year.
Among the new visitors this year was Southern Comfort Kitchen, specializing in Cajun food. Its most interesting offering: Gator on a Stick.
Co-owner Brett Brill said it was their first season on the fair circuit. The company has been in business in the Bay Area for 25 years.
"We knew we had a product that people liked, but we didn't know how good Fresno was going to react to it," he said.
About 400 pounds of alligator meat later, he knows.
"We were thinking about 150 to 200 pounds at most, so we doubled our expectation," Brill said.
They also sell jambalaya, po' boy sandwiches with catfish or shrimp, crawfish, gumbo and other Cajun specialties. They get products shipped from Louisiana every day, so the constant resupply calls surprised their distributors, Brill said.
"We honestly didn't know how crazy it was going to be," Brill said. Fresno can't get rid of us now, we're lifers."
Oakhurst-based Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls, one of the fair's longest-running concessionaires, bought more ingredients this year than any other fair in recent memory.
Dane Baldwin, a co-owner of one of three booths, said his family counts The Big Fresno Fair as their hometown event and it's the last fair they do on the fair circuit each year.
He estimates a sweet return with sales growing by well into double digits.
"This was an exceptional year," he said.
But it took more than 16 tons of flour, seven tons of cinnamon and sugar, three-plus tons of butter, more than 5,000 pounds of cream cheese frosting and more than 1,400 pounds of walnuts to serve their sweet fare, Baldwin said.
"The one thing you don't want to do is run out," he said.
CONCERT REVIEW: The big windup to the fair was Monday night's Darius Rucker concert in the Paul Paul Theatre. Go to fresnobeehive.com and share your review.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, email@example.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.