The last-day crowd swells well above the 2012 count in the afternoon; total attendance figures expected to be within percentage points of last year.

 Article Tab: People dressed in fair food costumes make their way through the grounds on Sunday which was the last day of the 2013 OC Fair in Costa Mesa.
People dressed in fair food costumes make their way through the grounds on Sunday which was the last day of the 2013 OC Fair in Costa Mesa.
CHRISTINE COTTER, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

COSTA MESA – A relaxed final-day crowd nearly 50 percent bigger than last year’s enjoyed the OC Fair on Sunday, grabbing a last chance to taste fair cuisine, tour rides and play games. And vendors, of course, were happy for the business.

Though the 23-day fair saw a dip in attendance and food sales earlier this month, interim Chief Executive Doug Lofstrom said sales rose slightly during the final week. While the numbers are not yet audited, fair officials said total attendance this year was 1,333,600 as of 3 p.m. Sunday.

Crowds and sales

36,644:Day 23 attendance as of 3 p.m. Sunday

24,802:Attendance at the same time last year

1,333,600:Estimate of total attendance this year

1,357,335:Total attendance in 2012

Food and beverage sales as of Friday:

2013:$15.4 million

2012:$15.14 million

Alcohol sales as of Friday:

2013:$5.68 million

2012:$5.25 million

*Figures for this year are estimates. They have not been audited by fair staff.

Source: Robin Wachner, communications director, OC Fair & Event Center

As of Friday, food and beverage sales were up 2 percent compared with the same time last year, while alcohol sales had risen 8 percent.

“We can attribute the change to a lot of things: our promotions, attendance. … But one of the significant changes this week has been the continuation of excellent weather,” Lofstrom said.

During the same week last year, there was “unseasonably hot weather” that likely affected attendance, Lofstrom said.

This year’s fair also had changes that might have lowered ticket sales. Lawn seating tickets were not available at the Pacific Amphitheatre as it undergoes construction. Plus, more than 15,000 Girl Scouts, former Scouts and family members flocked to the fair last year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Nonetheless, Lofstrom said he sees a strong pattern of growth in attendance in the four previous years. In 2009, attendance totaled 1,072,018; in 2012, the final tally increased to 1,357,335.

On the fairgrounds, vendors watched the crowd trickle in Sunday afternoon. Gracie Boren, 17, a cashier at the Caf