Fair board President Mike Gall said Monday that early estimates point to more than 100,000 attendees last week, a result he and other officials are more than satisfied with.

"That's a conservative estimate at this point," he said. "We really needed it and, honestly, the community needed it, too. All 30 of us on the board share the same love for the fair that our residents do and we wanted to make it special for them, special for everyone coming back after not being able to last year. I feel like we did that. I believe we exceeded our expectations."

Gall said a typical fair year draws 80,000 to 90,000 people and that the annual attendance record sits at roughly 125,000.

"I know we did better this year than we did in 2018 or 2019," he said. "What more can we ask for? I think how enthusiastic people were to come up really speaks to the heart of this community and their desire to be with each other."

The 176th fair, still treated as the event's 175th anniversary due to 2020 limitations, was preceded by a memorial ceremony for those who died at the fairgrounds 20 years ago due to a steam engine explosion. Those proceedings attracted family members of the departed, roughly 200 onlookers, and law enforcement across numerous local agencies.

Once the week's attractions kicked off, visitors enjoyed the return of rides, fresh food, and new features such as sensory friendly hours for those living with disabilities.

Attendance kicked into extra high gear on Friday and Saturday with Friday seeing fair parking hit capacity. Vehicle traffic that evening was reported to be backed up for about one mile in all directions heading toward the fairgrounds.

"Saturday we had a bit more staggered attendance and it didn't all come in one big rush," Gall said. "On Friday, I think about 90 percent of that crowd was people getting off work and, as was seen, they all got there at pretty much the same time. It was busy for us, but we were very, very happy to see every person walking through that gate."

"Our parking lot staff did as good a job as humanly possible, directing people out in that heat," he added.

Attendance upticks carried over to Junior Fair's livestock auction, which reportedly brought in roughly $719,000 across 800-plus animal sales.

Last year's livestock auction garnered $460,000 in sales amidst planning limited by COVID-19.

"I can't say enough for the job those kids did," Gall said. "I think people came up here, the ones doing the bidding, with the idea that the kids are getting a little extra this year. Once the action gets going there's pretty much no break and everyone involved from the kids on up just did a perfect job of handling everything. I think we had about 16 hours total of auctioning on Friday and Saturday."

Planning will begin soon for next year's fair as well as site attractions that will go on later this year like Holiday Lights, a well-attended annual drive-thru light display.

"People really wanted to come out for that last year with it being a nice, safe thing to do with social distancing and everything," Gall said of the lights. "With the fair, there's not really a break for us. We'll have our wrap-up meeting this week and set our budget in October. Then it's full-speed go heading toward next year. We'll be looking forward to it."