2021 Arizona State Fair has record-breaking turnout after COVID-19 pandemic setback

After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Arizona State Fair has posted a record turnout with nearly 1.6 million visitors.

The 116-year-old event ran from Oct. 1-30 this year at the state fairgrounds in Phoenix.

The previous record of 1.3 million fairgoers was set in 2019.

"This year we opened for 22 days. The first time we’ve opened for 22 days in many, many, many years," said Brianda Martinez, a fair spokesperson.

It's a stark contrast to last year at this time when the fair was only able to provide drive-through holiday food amid the pandemic.

Based on the attendance numbers, it looked like people were ready to come back to the fair this year.

Visitors certainly made the most of their time at the fair, chomping down on classic fair food, riding even the scariest of rides, winning plenty of stuffed animals, and visiting with real-life animals.

Many are still doing their best to protect themselves and others against COVID-19. 

"Still taking precautions but it is really nice to be out here and to enjoy a little bit of normalcy," fair-goer Jolene Britten said.

"Able to be around people now versus when COVID was more around, we can participate in things now so I’m enjoying it," another fair-goer, Eva Pineda, said.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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