The Three Rivers Festival’s executive director estimates close to a half million people attended the 48th festival this year, which ended Saturday.
Jack Hammer, who took over the event in 2010, said the numbers could change when a final tally is released in a couple of weeks.
"I can tell you (by) the growth I saw in Junk Food Alley and attendance in some other areas," Hammer said Sunday night.
The weather also helped this year’s festival, he said. There was no rain in downtown Fort Wayne and temperatures during the week were warm but bearable, with a peak of 92 degrees on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Saturday’s high temperature was 80 degrees for the raft race.
There were lines for the Steel Dynamics river excursions, with Hammer estimating 5,000 new people who took advantage of the water rides.
New this year was the The Emporium, which Hammer described as "fun, reasonable shopping."
"There were more people riding the carnival rides, more helicopter rides, more money spent in Junk Food Alley," Hammer said.
One of the people enjoying the fare in Junk Food Alley on Thursday was Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, now the Republican vice presidential contender chosen by the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Hammer was Pence’s host as he campaigned at the festival and visited another Mike Pence who has operated one of the food stands for many years. The governor drank a lemon shakeup and ate corn dogs before trying some pulled pork from Timmy’s Barbecue, Hammer said. "He asked for a second sample and then one of his entourage got some sandwiches for the governor" for the way home.
Last year, about 350,000 people attended the eight-day festival that saw some heavy thunderstorms and a heat advisory.