FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — The Great Minnesota Get-Together turned out to be the greatest Minnesota get-together.

The final numbers are in, and the fair drew more than 1.8 million people in 12 days.

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That’s 34,000 more than the old record.

The fair won’t have the precise profit picture for a few weeks, but with surging attendance and ticket prices up a dollar, the likelihood of a surplus is high.

But the State Fair isn’t always a money maker.

Last year, record heat led to a lower turnout, and despite taking in $42 million, there was an operating loss of $1.6 million.

“By state law we are defined as a quasi-state agency, so we get no aid at all — no financial aid at all —  from any government entity,” said State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer.

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Any profit after expenses at the fair gets plowed back into upgrades at the 320-acre complex. The big addition this year was the $17 million West End, with its upscale eateries, shops and nearby transit mall.

The West End and great weather are getting a lot of credit for the increased attendance. But increased attendance doesn’t always mean a bigger profit.

“The more people eat, the more sanitation costs there are,” Hammer said. “The more people here, the more public safety is required.”

The fair’s final revenue picture won’t be known for several weeks until all the bills are paid.The number one planned improvement project for next year is a $1.5 million renovation to the restrooms at the Kidway.

Updating all State Fair restrooms has been an ongoing, multimillion dollar effort for several years. Other likely upgrades won’t be visible.

“If we do some major electrical upgrade or storm sewers or anything underground, all you see is some new pavement,” Hammer said.

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In addition to the new attractions like the West End and great weather, other boosts to attendance were more freebies. They included more free concerts, shows and a revamped series of horse shows.

Esme Murphy