The Alameda County Fair's 2009 slogan is "Come out and Play," and visitors have lived up to that credo.
This summer, more than in past years, the fair, which began July 1 and wraps up its run tomorrow, has seen a dramatic increase in attendance.
In the first five days alone, the fair saw more than 140,000 come through the turnstyles. And when crowd counts are tallied next week, the numbers are expected to be record-breaking.
April Mitchell, spokeswoman for the fairgrounds, said she believes a lot of residents stayed home this summer to save money and as a result, partook in the local tradition that is the fair.
As of Thursday, Mitchell said: "The first 13 days, the fair has seen record breaking attendance with the fair up close to 40 percent over 2008. This is the highest recorded attendance in the last 20 years.
"A variety of factors have contributed to this attendance including great weather, extra days of horse racing, strong concert crowds and a weekend holiday for the 4th of July. Additionally, fair officials really believe the $2 Tuesdays, Senior Free Wednesdays and Kids Free Fridays have helped those affected by the down economy. Many people are looking for entertainment closer to home."
Mitchell added that the extra days of horse racing have been viewed very favorably by the fairgoers as well as the owners, trainers and jockeys.
"It's nice to have a longer stay at the same fairgrounds for the racing industry," she said. "Everyone seems very happy to be at the Alameda County Fair and the attendance is a reflection of this."
The final concert tonight will feature country artist Aaron Tippin.
Aside from concert, other popular fair activities include, of course, the rides, midway games, food such as deep fried Oreos and funnel cake, horse racing, farm animals, contests and competitions.
In the Festival Square today will be "Spice of India," "Jai Ho" Bollywood Dhamaka! An Indian Celebration of Culture, featuring live music, Bhangra dance, a classical music Bansuri player and tabla, Bollywood hip-hop dancing, fabrics and fashion, clothing and fabric vendors, food and spices, live cooking demos and family games.
For more information, visit www.alamedacountyfair.com