It was a record breaking year for the North Dakota State Fair.
But it was close!
The state fair hosted 2,198 more people this year than the previous record year in 2010.
With Saturday's numbers coming in at 33,766 --- the final attendance total for the 2012 North Dakota State Fair comes in at 310,839 --- that's the greatest number of recorded state fair guests since Minot was named home to the fair in 1966.
Thrilled with attendance numbers, North Dakota State Fair Manager Renae Korslien says this year, they were counting smiles instead of just numbers.
She has a number of reasons to smile --- the state fair grounds have come a long way since the cancellation in 2011 --- only weeks after the Mouse River flood.
Faring through a flood is a great feat.
It's a victory that no one in the Mouse River valley wanted, but one that many share.
The North Dakota State Fair association is no exception.
(Renae Korslien, North Dakota State Fair Manager) "We repaired 19 buildings, of course the state fair center and the granstand were safe but the other 19 buildings were all flooded. That's a lot of work. That's a lot of buildings."
Six to ten feet of water covered every acre, every building, every fence line.
(Renae Korslien, North Dakota State Fair Manager) "The guys recorded that we hauled out 40 - 20 yard dumpsters, just off our fences."
Like flooded homeowners, the fair association wasn't spared the financial woes.
They've taken on a six million dollar loan just for repairs - and taken on extra work to cover operating costs.
(Renae Korslien, North Dakota State Fair Manager) "We went for a whole harvest as some farmers would say. We lost our harvest last year. But then we do a lot of rentals and we pushed extra hard to get those buildings ready for rentals."
The North Dakota Historical Society is STILL working to recover.
The Game and Fish pond was dredged this spring - that work does fall under general maintenance - but WORK none-the-less.
The All Season's Arena floor was replaced this spring.
The damage to the ice floor was determined to be related to age and not the flood, but again, extra work.
As more than 300,000 people saw this week, things are running well.
And ultimately, THAT came down to hard work.
(Renae Korslien, North Dakota State Fair Manager) "Some people would make the comment, 'boy you're sure lucky you didn't get hit like they did!' But we had a staff that wouldn't give up and they push through the winter. They never stopped.
From the North Dakota State Fairgrounds, Jennifer Thorgramson, KX News. >>
Korslien also credits a mild winter for the amount of work they were able to get done.