COSTA MESA — Southern California residents flocked to the Orange County Fair in record-breaking numbers and ate their way through a heart-stopping number of deep-fried delights this summer.
The fair attracted an unprecedented 1,400,280 visitors, shattering the attendance record set last year.
"My belief is the 2011 edition of the fair establishes that the O.C. Fair has perfected the formula for staging a successful fair," O.C. Fair & Event Center Chief Executive and President Steven Beazley said in a statement. "That formula will now be applied to educate and entertain our community for years to come."
The fair broke its attendance record of 1.15 million visitors at 3:55 p.m. Thursday, spokeswoman Robin Wachner has said.
During the fair's 23-day run, July 14 through Sunday, visitors took to this year's theme, "Let's Eat!" with gusto devouring the fair's unique eats.
Visitors ate 125,000 balls of deep-fried Kool-Aid, 75,000 turkey legs, 10,000 Mexican funnel cakes and slices of deep-fried avocado, 3,000 chocolate-covered corn dogs, and 2,000 deep-fried frog's legs, according to a news release.
Fairgoers also packed the Pacific Amphitheatre to see the top-attended shows of the summer: Big Time Rush and Avery, Selena Gomez & The Scene, Weezer, Blake Shelton andBob Dylan.
Beazley has attributed the fair's success to its money-saving promotions, a diverse lineup of entertainment, the fair's theme and the nearly double number of Super Passes sold.
Fair officials introduced a new promotion this summer that turned into its most popular ever. Rise & Shine offered visitors $2 admission from 10 to 11 a.m. on weekends and doubled attendance during that hour.
"It was one of those things where everything went as planned," Beazley said Monday, later adding, "In our wildest dreams we never thought our attendance would wind up over 1.4 million. As you can imagine, we're elated that that is how it turned out."
By The Numbers
•Fairgoers ate 1,000 12-inch-high Mexican funnel cakes, but only four fairgoers met the challenge to consume one by themselves.
•284,982 visitors braved the cold visit into the Ice Museum. More than 350 300-pound blocks of ice were used to create its contents.
•More than 20,733 people were the ultimate fairgoers as holders of their own Super Pass (season pass) compared to 11,100 in 2010.
•32,439 people took advantage of the free Opening Hour on July 15 compared to 25,461 in 2011.
•3,668 exhibitors submitted 12,697 entries, which received 4,195 award ribbons and won more than $30,065 in cash awards.
•A total of 540 livestock exhibitors presented 3,190 animals, were the recipients of 2,170 ribbons and were rewarded $30,065 in cash awards.