Attendance at the the 50th Annual Prince William County Fair dropped by about 3,000 this year, to 88,798, during the nine-day run ended Saturday--dashing hopes that the number would break 100,000.

Fair manager Randy Fox attributed the lower attendance to rain Aug. 14, the first Saturday of the event, which he said cut the expected crowd in half. The fair drew its biggest crowd, of 16,000, on closing day. The biggest grandstand event was thedemolition derby, which drew 14,000 people over two nights.

The surprise draw of the grandstand was hypnotist Ken Holloway. His initial three-day engagement during the fair's first weekend was so popular that he was invited back and filled the seats for two more shows this weekend.

Attendance for the fair has declined in the last two years, from the high of 92,071 in 1997. Attendance both years has been hampered by rain, organizers said.

Because the fair is run by a private company, officials did not divulge revenue from ticket sales. Fox would not comment on whether the decreased attendance significantly affected profits.

Fox said the next few weeks will mostly be spent recovering from this year's event, although planning for next year's fair already has begun.

"The two weeks prior to the fair, there's a big buildup and a lot of pressure. Then you've got nine straight days of pretty intense activity," Fox said. "Now it's time to rest."

Fox said he averaged 18-hour workdays to keep the fair running. It could have been worse, though.

"The bigger the crowds, the more you have to do," Fox said.