OXFORD — It seemed like every parking space near the Oxford County Fairgrounds was full Saturday evening, as excited fans flooded through the main gates to see the legendary Kenny Rogers performing live on stage.
A crowd of thousands cheered as Rogers took the stage and launched into "Love or Something Like It" shortly before 8:30 p.m.
For fair organizers, the mobs thronging the midway Saturday were a welcome change from the sparse attendance of the past two wet, cloudy days at the fairgrounds.
"Wednesday wasn't horrible, but it was slow, and then Thursday and Friday were very, very slow," said Amber Dionne, at the fair office.
The office wouldn't have solid attendance numbers until probably next week, but Dionne estimated that the crowd was about the same size as the nearly 18,000 who attended last year's LeAnne Rimes concert.
Scads of people, many sporting heavy coats, blankets and winter hats to ward off a slight September chill, stood outside the crush of people near the stage watching Caroline Kole, an up-and-coming Nashville singer, warm up the crowd for Rogers.
"This is the first year I've been to the fair, but Kenny's worth it," said Flo Maddocks of Harrison.
Her mother, Marie Crowley of Weld, said she attended the Oxford Fair every year, but she was especially excited to see Kenny Rogers live.
"I come for the entertainment and the bloomin' onions," Crowley joked.
In the true style of a lifelong fan, Crowley had a tough time naming her favorite Rogers song.
"I don't have a favorite of Kenny's!" she exclaimed. "I can't pick just one."
Beside her, Bethany Bourassa of Oxford didn't have a hard time naming her favorite; the 1980 hit "Lady."
"I crank that in the truck all the time," she said.
Although she could have heard the concert from her house, less than a quarter of a mile from the fairgrounds, Bourassa said it would have made a poor substitute to the real thing.
Nearby, Tina Currie of Lisbon said it was her first time at the Oxford Fair, but as a huge Kenny Rogers fan she couldn't resist. She brought her husband and daughter along with her.
"I came for Kenny; they came because they love me," Currie joked.
Her daughter, Elizabeth, said she was a fan of Caroline Kole, but she had really come for the rides on the midway.
Although not as big a fan as his wife, Chris Currie said being able to see Rogers in concert was a thrill.
"Kenny's a legend," he said. "We might as well see him while we can."