An expanded midway brought in larger crowds at Family Fest last weekend despite showers that kept some possible attendees at home.

Mayor Mike Watson said the event was a big success and the new features, which included an 100-foot Ferris Wheel and other rides typical of what’s seen at the state fair plus around the clock entertainment were very popular.

Friday night’s attendance was hurt by the rain showers, he said but Saturday found a large crowd that was growing until the rain hit again.

The Ferris Wheel with its multicolored light show was visible even from Maumelle Boulevard, he said and it brought in a crowd at night.

Hopefully the weather will be nicer next year and we can see an even higher turnout, he said.

The annual event is hosted by the city and is held at Lake Willastein Park.

"The attendance was good and it was probably hampered by the rain on Friday evening, " Watson said. " The crowd was steadily growing on Saturday afternoon until the rain shower around 4:30 p.m. It recovered and we had a large crowd for the main act – Brandon Heath on Saturday night. There were more rides and games than we have had in the past with the most popular ride being the ‘Rock Star’ ride. The Ferris Wheel was a 100-feet wheel with an amazing light show that could be seen from the Boulevard. The funnel cakes with the toppings were a big hit."

Photos taken by Jack Stowe are included in this week’s newspaper but because of limited space there will be a photo page next week of Stowe’s collection and those submitted by readers.

This year’s event was the first with a new promoter and the result was much more midway booths, rides, entertainment and attendance.