AROUND 200,000 visitors poured through the gates of the Great Dorset Steam Fair.

A late surge of crowds pushed the numbers up to their expected level after a wet and muddy start to the annual extravaganza.

With so many events falling prey to bad weather this year, organisers say the 200,000 figure was a huge achievement in team work and cooperation.

They said that they wanted to thank all the visitors for bearing with them during muddy times.

On the first few nights of the show, staff worked at night with steam rollers to ensure the ground was as safe as possible for visitors the next day.

Extra gates were opened to relocate vehicles to safer ground, and stewards were working to maximum capacity to assist visitors and ensure their safety.

From Thursday afternoon, conditions improved significantly and the site saw bright sunshine and temperatures of up to 22 degrees.

This turnaround encouraged over 50,000 visitors on Friday and approximately 60,000 visitors on Saturday.

In memory of steam fair founder Michael Oliver, the folk marquee was renamed the Michael Oliver Marquee this year.

Another new addition to this year’s event was a stone plinth carved by Robin Hooper in Michael Oliver’s memory.

It was placed in a hedge towards the top of the steam ploughing hill as a permanent memorial to the founder.

Michael Oliver’s son and the fair’s managing director, Martin Oliver, said: “The plinth is in a wonderful location overlooking the whole showground and Dad would have approved wholeheartedly.

“It’s now nearly three years since he passed away and we all miss him so much.

“He has left a tremendous legacy in establishing the Great Dorset Steam Fair as arguably the world’s leading steam and preservation event.”