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Judging by the number of cars in the parking lot and the volume of the screams coming from the midway, it seems the Lancaster County Super Fair was pretty "super" -- well that's what some 10- and 9-year-old girls said.

Maddy Jones, 10, and Sarah Vagts, 9, had been to both the Super Fair and the State Fair before, but said the Super Fair was a better experience.

"It's smaller and less packed with people," said Vagts, who was playing with the goats at the petting zoo.

The pair and Sarah's mom, Sue, shuttled back and forth from the rides and food at the midway to the shade of nearby tents.

Sue Vagts said they chose to come to the 10-day fair on Saturday because the weather was the best it was going to get.

A cool breeze kept temperatures in the upper 80s throughout most of Saturday, but that was better than earlier in the week.

Temperatures reached the high 90s and the heat index made it feel well into the hundreds -- and it kept some people away.

Organizers expected 150,000-170,000 to attend the fair, but actual attendance will come in around 140,000, according to Rick Hinman, marketing manager for the Lancaster Event Center.

"When the T.V. weather guy is telling people to stay inside, it doesn't help," Hinman said. "Sometimes you win with the weather, sometimes you don't -- and we didn't."

Still, it's a new attendance record and a big improvement from last year's attendance of 107,000.

Despite the heat and the unmet attendance goal, Hinman said the fair was a big improvement over last year.

The barns had more animals than before, the midway offered five more rides and there were new attractions like the Interactive Game Experience and the cinnamon roll contest, which drew hundreds of entries.

Hinman said 4-H entries were up to about 1,800.

But there are things that need to be improved and tweaked next year, he said.

A better entertainment schedule needs to be worked out and he wants animals to be around for the entire fair -- many went early because of the heat.

As for how well it replaced the State Fair?

Vagts said she was impressed by the Super Fair, but Hinman said his goal was never to replace the State Fair.

The goal was to be a strong regional fair -- and it was, he said. Hinman met people from all around Nebraska and even some from South Dakota, Kansas and Iowa.

"We have things to refine for next year, but we are pleased with how it went," Hinman said.

Reach Jordan Pascale at 473-7120 or at jpascale@journalstar.com

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