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As summer ends, families enjoy a final weekend at the Maryland State Fair

Maryland State Fair goers enjoy the last long weekend before Labor Day. The holiday marks the unofficial end of the summer.

With his head tilted skyward, Everett Kuehn said he felt glad he hadn’t eaten anything in the last hour.

The 12-year-old boy was about to hop on the tallest ride he’d ever encountered: the 120-foot Spaceport, the newest and biggest attraction on the Maryland State Fair Midway.

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“I think this will be really fun,” Everett said. Then, after another moment of thought: “I feel like I might pass out.”

“I hope not!" his mom Kelly, of Towson, said with a laugh.

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This was exactly how Everett, who starts seventh grade Tuesday, wanted to spend his waning days of summer. Thousands of people joined the Kuehn family Sunday at the Timonium Fairgrounds for the final weekend of the Maryland State Fair. They soaked in the near-perfect weather, chowed on turkey legs and took spins on rides like the Spaceport, which is a good 20 feet taller than the giant Ferris wheel next door.

The new ride is so popular there’s a sign warning that if the line is long, not everyone is guaranteed a turn before closing. On Saturday night, the ride operators said the line was backed up to the ice tea bar several booths away.

“People want to come again and again,” said operator Niko White.

He and fellow operator Kelvin Rautenbach — both here on work visas from South Africa — get a close-up view as people experience the Spaceport for the first time.

“All the guys seem to act all brave with their ladies,” Rautenbach said, “but they scream more than the girls do.”

That the ride is so busy is a sign of a well-attended state fair. General manager Andy Cashman won’t know final numbers for a few days but says this year’s event has already surpassed last year’s total of around 545,000 visitors.

“This has just been a wonderful fair,” he said. They haven’t hit 600,000 people yet, “but these two days might put us there.”

Cashman says the later start of the school year helps keep numbers high. In 2016, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order mandating all schools open after Labor Day, which then triggered a huge increase in state fair attendance. During the latest General Assembly session, however, Maryland lawmakers returned power to local school boards to determine their respective academic calendars.

It remains to be seen what districts will do with their restored power — and how that could affect future fairs.

The long string of sunny, but not too hot, days is also to thank for this summer’s packed fairgrounds.

“It’s kind of like with farmers," Cashman said. “We live and die by the weather.”

Monday marks the fair’s final day. Visitors can stop by dairy cattle shows, 4-H exhibits and a Shetland pony show. There will be live music, a Lego display and a farmers’ market.

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Plenty of families came out Sunday because it just seemed like the right way to cap off summer. Emily and Scott Moore brought their 5-year-old daughter Hannah for some fun before she starts kindergarten at Rodgers Forge Elementary in Baltimore County.

“We were at the pool yesterday and the fair today,” Emily Moore said. “It’s just a good last weekend of summer.”

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