Nearly 500 more people passed through the gate on the fair's final Saturday than in 2006, squeaking by to mark an all-new high of 145,955.
With one record brought down, fair officials held out hope of breaking the record for total attendance, set at 846,724 in 2000. If 86,547 fairgoers show up Sunday, they will reach that goal.
Concerts ticket sales have helped pump up attendance this year, officials said.
American Idol's Chris Daughtry performed to a sold-out crowd of 5,074 at the Dorton Arena on Saturday night. At least three other performers – Christian band MercyMe and country singers Kellie Pickler and Josh Turner – also sold out their concerts.
An appearance by celebrity chef Paula Deen was also sold out.
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