Fairgoers bid adieu Sunday to those gargantuan turkey legs, the animal exhibitors, acts like The Wild West Showcase and all of those rides when the 106th Oklahoma State Fair concluded after an 11-day run.
While it will take several weeks for the state fair to tally telltale signs of success like admissions and profits, those attending the state fair on its last day were quick to give their two cents on the event dubbed Home Grown Fun.
Harper Lecluyse, 3, of Edmond, gave a lukewarm review to a “caterpillar ride” but very much enjoyed her experience of petting a massive Clydesdale horse.
Harper came to the fair with her parents, Allison and Blake, and sister Sloane, 7 months.
Outside of a bustling petting zoo, the Lecluyse family said they appreciated the warmth of the animal exhibitors in the nearby barns, one of whom gave Harper a lift so she could give the horse a pat.
In Barn 4, one of those exhibitors, Dayla Andersen, 11, of Kremlin, was working her way through fried chicken on a stick, after winning first place in her division in an Angus show.
Her father, Kevin, said the family attends the fair annually to compete in the Ranch Sorting National Championships, a contest in which 10 calves are sorted from one side of the arena to the other by two horses and riders.
While many things remained the same at the state fair, there have been positive changes the Andersens noticed this year — namely, the renovation of Barn 4, which included an expansion and the addition of giant fans.
The changes were part of a years-long, $75 million project that entailed tearing down old All Sports Stadium, renovating all livestock buildings, constructing new barns and show arenas within the barn complex and providing a warm-up arena adjacent to show facilities.
“It's a lot nicer,” Kevin Andersen said. “It's a lot better.”
With the additional space and fans, the barn feels cleaner and cooler, he said.
Timothy O'Toole, president and CEO of the Oklahoma State Fair, noted the weather was mostly cooperative this year, though some rain seemed to have kept some away opening weekend.
Despite that challenge, “we've had very good crowds,” he said.
This year marked two of the most successful indoor concerts ever, with performances from country music stars Jake Owen and Gary Allan, O'Toole said.
Their well-attended and sold-out shows Friday and Saturday followed the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Xtreme Bulls Tour at the state fair.
Soon it will be time to pick next year's acts, O'Toole said. The booking begins in late fall at a conference for the International Association of Fairs and Expositions.
The next big event in store for State Fair Park is Oct. 6, when the Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show arrives.