If good weather holds out through the Sunday, an artistically designed and handcrafted sand castle should hold up at the Utah State Fair.
Fair officials also say a sunny day would help maintain above-average attendance figures, which are the highest since 1983.The fair closes Sunday evening after an 11-day run, and attendance is usually largely dependent on the weather. Most exhibitors and entrepreneurs are keeping their fingers crossed that it won't rain. And if it does, they hope the much-needed precipitation and cooler temperatures won't dampen people's spirits enough to keep them away from the 132nd annual exhibition's last day.
Hundreds of schoolchildren and adults have stopped to visit the Bavarian, medieval-style sand castle, located just west of the Horticulture Building on the southeast corner of the fairgrounds.
The 15-foot-high sand castle and a just-completed baby dragon playing with a dump truck were carved by Kevin Crawford of Sand Sculptures International, Hollywood, Calif., and Tim and Tina Weidauer, Murray, out of 55 tons of bank-run sand donated by Pioneer Sand & Gravel, Kearns.
The sand contains enough clay to help hold the castle and the dragon, named "Puff the Magic Dragon" by one little fair visitor, together, said Crawford, a graduate architect from California Polytechnic University.
A fair report released Friday shows that paid attendance through Thursday night, the latest available figure, was 158,905, an increase of 15,000 over the first eight days of the 1987 fair.
The paid-attendance figure is the highest for eight days since 1983 and reflects higher-than-average attendance for the same time period during the past five years, according to the report.
Attendance figures and participation at the exhibition have sparked smiles from director Jackie Nokes.
"We've got the greatest fairgoers in the world . . . . We have many people who have come back two or three times, and we've had many visitors from out of state and even from Russia and Japan," Nokes said.
There's lots more to sample at the fair, as evident from the following schedule:
10 a.m. - Dressage competition, horse arena.
10:30 a.m. - Fair gates open.
Noon - Dorothy Doer, bandstand.
12:30 p.m. - Orgill family singers, Budweiser stage.
1 p.m. - National Chili Cookoff, speciality food tent.
1 p.m. - Arm wrestling statewide finals competition, bandstand.
1:30 p.m. - James Romers, Las Amigos Band, Budweiser stage.
2 p.m. - Ice Capades, Salt Palace.
2:30 p.m. - Mistin's Magical Revue, Budweiser stage.
3:30 p.m. - Ambassadors of Dixieland, Budweiser stage.
4 p.m. - Swanee Singers, bandstand.
4:30 p.m. - Clapier & Nelson, Budweiser stage.
5 p.m. - Salt Creek Band, bandstand.
5:30 p.m. - Moonshine, Budweiser stage.
6 p.m. - Lee Greenwood, country western singer, grandstand.
6 p.m. - Freeway Band, bandstand.
6:15 p.m. - Special Delivery Sky Diving Team, grandstand.
6:30 p.m. - The Dons/Si Lobato, musical group, Budweiser stage.
7 p.m - Cathy Rich Band, bandstand.
7:30 p.m. - Justin Tyme, Budweiser stage.
8 p.m. - Piano music contest winner concert, bandstand.
8:30 p.m. - Lee Greenwood, country western singer, grandstand.
9 p.m. - Fair closes.