By Susan Miller
Missourian Staff Writer
The countdown is on for the Washington Town and Country Fair which opens in just six weeks.
Chairman Paul Brune said planning is right on schedule for the five-day festival.
“We are celebrating 85 years of Fair fun this year and we’ve got another great lineup sure to please,” Brune told The Missourian.
The Fair will open Wednesday, Aug. 6, and run through Sunday, Aug. 10, at the city fairgrounds.
Brune said the Main Stage lineup is complete with the addition of Christian rock artist Matthew West opening night at 8:30 p.m.
“We are moving up the Fair queen contest to 6:30 p.m. this year so we can have the concert,” he said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a band on Wednesday night, but it’s something we’ve been talking about trying again and the Christian rock groups are very popular.”
Brune said he doesn’t know what to expect in terms of crowd for a Wednesday night show, but other venues like Six Flags and the Family Arena in St. Charles do very well with their Christian rock concerts.
“When we posted that Matthew West was coming on Facebook, we had over 800 hits that same day, so I think people are excited,” he added.
Brune said the entire Main Stage lineup is top-notch, and all of the groups and performers are Grammy Award nominees.
“I think that says a lot right there,” he said. “It’s not the lineup we initially sought out, but I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out. Booking the entertainment is always a challenge, and this year was no different, but we think it will be a hit.”
The big-name acts include country music singer Easton Corbin Thursday night; Southern rock band 3 Doors Down Friday evening; country music star Trace Adkins Saturday night; and “up and coming” country music singer David Nail Sunday night, closing out the Fair.
“I think Trace Adkins will draw the biggest crowd and he will pull people from all over,” Brune said. “He is very popular and doing a lot on social media right now. He has about 3.4 million Facebook likes which is amazing.
“3 Doors Down also will reing out the crowds and the other country music guys will do well too. David Nail is from Kennett and a Mizzou grad so we expect him to bring a following.”
The motor sports lineup is almost identical to last year, Brune said with bull riding Wednesday night and the return of the Monster Trucks on Thursday.
The tractor pulls, always a big draw, will take place Friday, he said, and UTV racing is coming back on Saturday. Motocross racing will close out the action Sunday.
Brune said fairgoers will notice a major improvement at the motor sports arena — a new, two-story permanent building featuring a concession stand, restrooms, a ticket office and balcony for the judges and announcers during events.
The building is being funded by the Washington Fair Board.
In addition to being a home for new concession stands, the building will be able to house the PA system on a permanent basis, replacing an old trailer that had been in use for more than 15 years.
“The trailer was old, not very attractive and not as safe as we would like,” Brune remarked. “The new building will be amazing and we’re able to do it thanks to a lot of volunteer labor and donation materials.”
The chairman’s event this year will be Top Hogs, featuring trick-performing pigs.
“I think it will be a lot of fun. These pigs have been featured on David Letterman and other shows,” Brune said.
Top Hogs will be at the fairgrounds all five days, performing several shows each day.
Also new, will be Heritage Land, which is replacing Safety Land, and will feature soap makers, broom-makers, basket weaving and other heritage-type crafters.
Returning for a second year will be the carnival company PBJ and Brune is hopeful a Ferris wheel will be part of the midway.
“We were really happy with how the midway looked last year and the condition of the rides,” Brune said.
A few tweaks have been made with the concessions and there will be a food trailer near the Main Stage area this year, selling crab Rangoon, pork shis-ka-bobs and fried rice.
The Junior Fair Board also will have more of a presence at this year’s Fair, sporting their own shirts and hosting the Race to VIP Wednesday and laser tag on Sunday. Members are between the ages of 13 and 18.
“We now have bylaws for the Junior Fair Board and they even have their own line item in the budget,” Brune said.
As in past years, two pre-Fair events will take place the weekend before — the Fair Run and Walk Saturday morning, Aug. 2, and the annual parade Sunday, Aug. 3.
Meet Me at The Fair
Brune said he came up with this year’s theme — Meet Me at the Fair — in part because it’s the end of summer meeting spot for young and old and as a nod to the Fair’s 85th anniversary, the city of Washington’s 175th and the 110th anniversary of the St. Louis World’s Fair.
Brune reminds residents that a Fair ticket gets you everything — from parking, the rides, all concerts and exhibits.
“Bottom line, it’s the cheapest five days of entertainment you can find anywhere,” he said.