More than two weeks after the gates to this year’s county fair closed for the last time, those behind the rows of exhibits, wide array of carnival rides and games and packed schedule of activities have finally had a chance to take a step back — and they’re calling this year’s fair a success.

Tallying more than 127,000 visitors flowing through the San Mateo County Event Center grounds in nine days as well as 6,000 exhibit entries submitted this year, fair spokeswoman Pennie Rorex acknowledged the event’s high turnout and engagement. Though fair attendance was up 9 percent and entries also exceeded those logged in 2017, Rorex said the year’s success was perhaps most evident in the laughs and smiles of those who passed through the fair’s gates each day.

“We are all about making family memories, and when you get to see and hear it happening then it’s a very rewarding feeling,” she said.

The fair also netted more than 1,250 exhibit entries in the Youth Exhibits category and $178,000 for 4-H and Future Farmers of America members, showing a continued engagement with fair favorites. But Rorex said high marks for this year’s live music acts helped fair coordinators know they were on the right track in inviting to the stage groups like TLC, which drew more than 2,200 visitors.

“That’s what the county fair is really all about,” she said. “It belongs to its community.”

Having spent weeks preparing for this year’s fair, those behind it were sad to see it go from a small city to empty grounds, said Rorex, who likened the day after the fair as the day after Christmas.

“The day after it’s a letdown,” she said. “It’s a bittersweet feeling, it’s sad to see it go.”

With many thrills to mark this year’s event — including an award-winning funnel cake with Nutella, caramel and bacon and athletic feats from the Acrobats of Hebei, China group — Rorex said it was hard to choose a favorite feature from this year’s event. But she said planning for next year’s fair is already underway, with coordinators ready to improve on this year’s success.

“The planning for next year’s fair begins the minute the gates open for this year’s fair,” she said.

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