The 175th Champaign County Fair will feature country artist Scotty McCreery as its main entertainment.
Fairgoers will see familiar acts and learn more about the history of the fair as part of the 175th anniversary.
McCreery won American Idol at age 17. Since then he has released three albums, toured with Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts, headlined his own tours and wrote a book, “Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream,” in May 2016, according to Essential Broadcast Media’s website, which represents McCreery.
Columbus-based country band Steel Ivory will be the opening act for the concert on Friday, Aug. 5 at 8 p.m. in the grandstand, Fair Entertainment Chairman Todd Dallas said.
Tickets to the performance can be purchased both online and at the fair office, Dallas said. This is a change from last year, when they were only online. Having both options is a good idea for the concert, he said.
There were some hangups last year with admission to the concert, and Dallas said the hope is to fix those for this year. Last year there was only one entry point into the concert, and all the tickets had to be scanned. The scanners had some technical difficulties, slowing down the process. Fair organizers delayed the start of the concert to make sure every ticket holder was inside before the show began.
“We didn’t want to start the concert with people still coming in,” he said.
To fix the problem, Dallas said, organizers plan to have more entry points to get ticket holders in their seats faster. They also hope they have ironed out the issues with the scanners.
The fair board has been working to book bigger acts for the annual fair, which can be costly, Dallas said. Also, other events are competing for the same time slots, so it is difficult to find good acts for the fair in budget.
“We are at the mercy of who is available during that time, and we’re also trying to work under a budget,” he said. “Country entertainers are popular everywhere.”
Despite the cost, Dallas said, the fair’s coffers are doing well.
Other entertainment options
Aside from the headliner concert, fairgoers have other options, including a 175th anniversary retrospective display in the grandstand highlighting the history of the fair. It will feature previous years’ information back to 1841; vintage photographs; past fair board minutes; past tickets, premium vouchers and ribbons. There will be a presentation that puts together the past 150 years of the fair. Dallas worked on it with Doug Dill, who died in April. Dill was a former OSU 4-H Extension agent who was very involved in the fair and 4-H.
“We are honored to have his work and be able to display it,” Dallas said.
There will also be a movie Chester Hooley taped that dates back to the 100th anniversary of the fair, featuring a parade downtown and some of the fair activities in 1941, he said.
Returning entertainment acts include the Wild World of Animals, the Daniel Show, the truck and tractor pulls, pig and calf scrambles, Fair Queen crowning, Big Time Wrestling, harness racing and demolition derby. The Stihl Wood Carving Demonstration is another return feature, with a silent auction of the items raising money for the Melvin Cook Memorial Junior Fairboard building. The carvings and auction are under the grandstand.
This is the third year for the Wide World of Animals, Dallas said. It will run from Friday, Aug. 5, to Wednesday, Aug. 10.
The Daniel Show is a returning act, though it was named something else last year. It will also run Aug. 5-10. The star is a juggler and “bouncing” artist, who gets audience members involved in learning to do some of his tricks. Those include balancing balls on fingertips while hula-hooping.
The first truck pull is Saturday, Aug. 6; the Pig and Calf Scramble and queen crowning are Sunday. The NTPA truck and tractor pull is Monday. Harness racing is Tuesday to Thursday night, with door prizes being given away Tuesday night. Big Time Wrestling is Wednesday night. Friday is the demolition derby.
Concert ticket information
Tickets for the concert are for sale online on the Champaign County Fair website (champaigncountyfair.com) or can be purchased at the fair office. The fair office’s hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Dallas said most of the track seats are sold out, but seats are still available for the grandstand and bleachers. Tickets are $23 for grandstand and general admission and $33 for trackside seating.
The fair is Aug. 5-12 this year.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.