The countdown is on for the 2019 Washington Town & Country Fair.
Just one month away, Fair Chairman Jason Unnerstall said planning is going smoothly.
“We are wrapping up details and putting the final pieces together,” he said. “We are on track for August.”
The five-day Fair will open Wednesday, Aug. 7, and run through Sunday, Aug. 11, at the city fairgrounds.
Unnerstall said this year marks the 90th anniversary of the Fair.
“The theme is ‘Cheers to 90 Years,’ but it’s really cheers to the volunteers who have made this event great for the past 90 years,” he said. “I chose the theme as a salute to the incredible volunteers we have — they make it happen.”
The self-described “Fair rat” grew up not only attending the event, but watching and helping out as his parents held key roles. His father, Terry Unnerstall, is a past Fair chairman who still volunteers each year, and his mother, Donna, served on the queen committee for nine years.
“I really did grow up at the Fair. I was 7 or 8 when my dad served as Fair chairman and I still remember it — mainly because he made us work on the fairgrounds before we could go off and do something fun,” he joked.
This year it will be Unnerstall’s two children, ages 5 and 3, who will be having fun while Dad works and Unnerstall said that’s perfectly fine with him.
Ready to Go
Unnerstall said the Fair Board is very excited about the lineup and ready for the gates to open on five days of fun.
“We feel our lineup, from the Main Stage entertainment, motorsports, rides, exhibits and all of the games and activities, offers a tremendous value to our fairgoers and stakeholders,” he said.
A new carnival company, Fun Time Shows, will be on the grounds this year offering 20 rides of varying thrill levels, Unnerstall said, including a 65-foot Ferris wheel.
Other new attractions include the Live Shark Encounter show all five days, remote-controlled racing with three tournaments daily and a special appearance by the St. Louis Blues Street Team on three days.
The chairman’s event this year is the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit which drew big crowds and a lot of positive response during the 2017 Fair.
Unnerstall said the exhibit has been completely redone and new items added, so it seemed like the right time to bring it back.
Along with the new events, fan favorites such as Agri-Land, chain saw carving, the Brew Fest and Wing Ding competition, and the daily children’s games and contests will all be back, along with the Home Economics exhibits, 4-H and livestock exhibits and the Entertainment Tent will have live music daily.
Unnerstall said this year’s Main Stage lineup is top-notch from opening to closing night.
“We’re excited to present fairgoers with seven concerts in five days,” he said.
Christian singer Micah Tyler will kick things off Wednesday night after the Fair queen contest. Unnerstall said Tyler is a “big name” in Christian music and the feedback has been very positive.
“We’re excited to have him and feel he will be a good fit for opening night,” he said.
Next up will be LoCash, formerly known as LoCash Cowboys, featuring American country music duo Chris Lucas and Preston Brust.
“These guys are established with two albums out and some big hits,” said Unnerstall. “We’re expecting a big crowd.”
On Friday night it will be a triple feature with the Bottle Rockets, followed by the Old 97s and featured singer Shooter Jennings, Waylon Jennings’ son, who was booked after the Turnpike Troubadours canceled last month. Unnerstall said the cancellation was due to factors beyond the Fair Board’s control.
“And we think as replacements go, this is a great one,” he said. “It’s three concerts in one show, so it’s going to be a lot of fun and we expect big crowds.”
Unnerstall said without a doubt the biggest show in the five-day lineup will be Saturday night when legendary rock band Styx takes the stage.
“We expect a huge crowd,” he said. “If the weather is good we could even set a record.”
Although the band is famous for its albums released in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Unnerstall said it has fans of all ages and he expects high school and college-aged kids to attend along with the those in their mid-60s.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun and they’ve promised a great show,” he said.
Closing on the big-name entertainment on Sunday night will be country music star David Lee Murphy, who is also know for his song writing. Murphy also produced an album with Kenny Chesney.
“We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls and great feedback on him, so it will be a great way to end the Fair,” Unnerstall said.
Fairgoers looking for more than just music will find it in the motor sports arena, the chairman said.
On opening night, there will be bull riding and freestyle American bullfighting followed by bronc and bull riding Thursday.
Unnerstall said the Lucas Oil PPL Western Series truck and tractor pulls, a crowd favorite, will be held Friday followed by field class and pro-stock tractor pulls Saturday.
The motor sports action culminates on Sunday with stadium motocross.
Unnerstall said along with the volunteers, the Fair wouldn’t happen each year without the help of the city of Washington, the parks department and ambulance, fire and police departments.
“I also want to thank the Washington Chamber and recognize their staff,” he said. “We’re also grateful to the business community and fairgoers who support the Fair,” he said. “We are thankful the community has always embraced this event and realized its value.”