Continuing a record setting pace, this year's Alameda County Fair saw more memories made than any time in its 100-year history.
More than 534,000 attendees visited the fair, an 18 percent increase from 2011, and is the largest recorded attendance in history, according to Fair organizers. In 2009, the Alameda County Fair was recognized as the fastest growing of more than 3,000 fairs in North America; its previous attendance record was 452,747 set in 2011.
Fair officials said they are extremely pleased with the attendance increase, which was driven by special ride and admission promotions, as well as new attractions such as the White Water Flume. The Alameda County Fair is currently ranked as the 39th largest fair in the nation and the largest event in the East Bay.
"Back-to-back record years are a testament to the Alameda County Fair's ability to bring together and showcase the best of their community," said Stephen Chambers, executive director of Western Fairs Association. "Their creative programming, innovation, and extensive community outreach continues to set an example for all to follow."
More than 1,200 volunteers helped package 130,000 meals for non-profit Kids Against Hunger, most of which will be stored onsite at the fairgrounds for future emergency needs in Alameda County. Additionally, the Fair's Feed The Need Food Drive resulted in 39,189 lbs of donated food for the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
Record attendance also drove record high food sales while Butler Amusements, the Fair's carnival ride operator, also had its best year. Many attended the fair to feast on annual cravings for funnel cakes and corn dogs -- of which 37,918 and 123,596 were consumed, respectively.
Attendees also ate the following:
* 15,852 shaved ices
* 11,166 turkey legs
* 7,882 cinnamon rolls
* 4,598 deep fried Oreos
* 2,873 deep fried Fruity Pebbles
* 2,851 deep fried watermelons
New and returning attractions and events such as the RAY: solar powered remote control car races, Storyville, Sudsy's Barn, Thank A Farmer Magic Show, World of Music, All Alaskan Pig Races and Wool Warriors Only shows played a big part in this year's success. Other popular attractions included the Fair's AgVenture Park featuring agricultural edu-tainment and Festival Square's themed weekends: "Spice of India," "Made in America" and "Festival Latino."
"We want to thank the more than half-a-million guests who made memories at the record breaking 100 Alameda County Fair," said Rick Pickering, CEO of the Alameda County Agricultural Fair Association. "As a nonprofit organization that receives no tax support, we are pleased to provide our community with local affordable edu-tainment. We are once again honored and humbled that so many people chose to have fun at the Fair this summer."
Live horse racing remained popular at the 2012 Fair, in spite of a 4 percent reduction in the number of races (115 races in 2012, compared to 119 races in 2011). Still, the overall amount wagered at "on-track" was only 1 percent less than in 2011, at a time when racing across the Nation has experienced upwards of 10 percent decreases.
"Competitive exhibits, animals and agricultural elements of our Fair continue to be crowd favorites," Pickering added. "We are also happy to report that 143 dogs were given a new life through the dog adoption program, breaking last year's record of 121 dogs. These dogs had previously been scheduled to be euthanized and were featured at the award winning Puppy Party Palooza attraction."
Nightly performances by acts such as Lonestar, Tower of Power, 38 Special, Salt N Pepa, and Morris Day and The Time were filled to capacity, while a variety of dance lessons, cooking tips, cultural music, competitive food-judging presentations and demonstrations rounded out the Fair's offerings.
Overall, total entries for competitive exhibits increased by .04 percent while total exhibitors increased 2.2 percent. The junior livestock auction netted $565,714, small animal sales raised $47,024 and fine art sales increased 60 percent to $17,130.