Nearly perfect fall weather brought record crowds out to the Arkansas State Fair this year. The 2015 fair closed Sunday evening with 43,206 people on site to end the weekend. That brings the ten day event total to 473,106 fair goers through the gates.
The state’s largest event routinely boasts 420,000 patrons. This year’s crowd was the largest since 2010, which previously held the record. Last year’s attendance was down significantly with just over 407,000 after the first three days of the fair were plagued by rain.
“It was a fantastic year,” said Ralph Eubanks, fair spokesman. “The weather could not have been better. And I think we were aided in our final numbers by a few things: we have the best concert lineup we’ve had in years, we added the free shuttle from state capitol area on the weekends and we had improved police presence, so there were no major incidents at all.”
Guests were entertained by musical headliners, Styx, Montgomery Gentry, Grand Funk Railroad, Joe Diffie and Naughty By Nature. Along with typical fair food like funnel cakes and corn dogs, this year’s attendees were able to sample the Bacon Bomber, Apple Pie Fries and Ice Cream and Arkansas’ biggest fried pickle on a stick. The new classics like the fried snickers and fried Twinkie were also available.
It wouldn’t be a state fair without the blue ribbons. In Arkadelphia, 12-year-old Colby Daniel has bragging rights on this year’s biggest watermelon. His Carolina Cross weighed in at 116 pounds.
Ross Wingert of Rosebud won grand champion heifer in the Junior Angus division. Lexi Lane of Siloam Springs won grand champion heifer in the Junior Shorthorn. Rhonda Hall of Little Rock was awarded first place winner for her Honey Nut Cheesecake in the Honey Cooking Competition. Courtney Shumate was named grand champion for her mini rex breedin the open rabbit show.
A full list of winners in a variety of competitions can be found at this link.