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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/THOMAS METTHE -- 10/20/2019 -- Fairgoers walk along the midway during the Arkansas State Fair on Oct. 20, 2019, at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds in Little Rock. See more photos at www.arkansasonline.com/1021fair/

The Arkansas State Fair nearly matched its all-time record for attendance over its 10-day run this year, with a total of 472,308 guests.

President and General Manager Doug White said this was just about 800 people shy of the record in 2015 of 473,106 people.

White said he believes the combination of pleasant weather, strong marketing and improved parking made the biggest difference.

“I’m elated with that, compared to six days of rain last year,” White said. “Everyone around here was walking on air.”

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i50xrcnlhSc]

White said marketing this year especially focused on social media and trying to encourage young people to attend the fair.

He said the change that generated the most positive comments this year, though, was the newly graveled south parking lot.

White said the south parking lot in years past was grass, so with even a small amount of rain, it became a “slog” for visitors.

This year, the lot was weather-proof thanks to gravel and White said it could fit about 1,200 cars.

Gallery: Arkansas State Fair Final Day

[Gallery not loading? Click here to see more photos » https://www.arkansasonline.com/galleries/27443/album/]

People were still on rides at the midway until about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, White said.

“The irony of that was not lost on me, that we avoided a major storm by hours,” he said.

Even though the midway is still being disassembled Monday morning, White said the work for next year’s fair is already underway.

“I’ve already got my list together of what went right and what went wrong,” White said. “I’m already thinking about next time.”

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