It’s game time, Washington Town & Country Fair Chairman Jason Unnerstall said Monday morning as he stood on the city fairgrounds overseeing final preparations.
The 2019 Fair opens Wednesday and runs through Sunday.
Unnerstall said the three pre-Fair activities held over the weekend all went very well and seemed to get residents excited for the five-day Fair run.
“The run/walk Saturday morning was great and we had a huge turnout,” he said. “We had about 400 people participating, which is up about 20 percent over last year.”
Particularly special, Unnerstall said, were the first responders and firemen who participated, raising money for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, the sponsor of the 9/11 mobile exhibit that will be at the Fair this year.
“The firemen raised over $500 for the foundation,” he said.
That 9/11 exhibit received a special escort from first responders Tuesday morning as it made its way to the fairgrounds.
A new pre-Fair event, a kickoff party, was held Saturday night under the Farmers’ Market featuring live music, games and refreshments.
Unnerstall said the weather was perfect for an outdoor party and attendance was good for the first-time event.
On Sunday, the streets were lined with spectators for the annual Fair parade, which began at 4 p.m.
“It was just awesome — there were some really neat, creative floats and entries, all of which got a lot of cheers from the crowds,” Unnerstall said. “Really, the whole weekend just went great and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.”
The Fair chairman said he’s keeping his fingers crossed that the weather continues to cooperate throughout the week and weekend.
But whatever the weather, Unnerstall said the Fair Board and its many volunteers will be ready.
Ready to Go
On Monday, Unnerstall said it’s all systems go for the Fair and final prep work is going well and ahead of schedule.
“The grounds look great, and everything is really green from all of the rain we’ve had,” he commented.
Final setup was taking place Monday and Tuesday, and the carnival company was on-site setting up the rides. The approximate 5,000 chairs for the Main Stage were set up Saturday morning.
“It’s all coming together and we couldn’t be more excited about the full lineup,” Unnerstall said.
This year is extra special, he said, because the Fair is celebrating its 90th anniversary.
“Our theme is Cheers to 90 Years, but it’s also cheers to our volunteers who make it all happen each and every year,” he said.
Unnerstall said the Washington Fair is unique because one ticket price includes all of your entertainment, including the concerts, motor sports, livestock shows, AgriLand, rides and special exhibits, including the 9/11 trailer and Live Shark Encounter.
“The response to all of the activities and events planned has been great, but we’ve heard the most about the Main Stage concerts, especially Styx which performs Saturday night,” he said. “We knew Styx would be a big draw, but I didn’t realize the age range the band would appeal to, probably 18 to 65, which is huge.”
The Fair Board also has heard a lot of positive buzz about country music star David Lee Murphy, who has a song out with Kenny Chesney right now.
“I think Sunday is going to be a big night too,” Unnerstall said. “We have LOCASH playing Thursday night and they put on a phenomenal show so we’re excited about that.”
It will be triple night of entertainment Friday with the Bottle Rockets opening, followed by the Old 97s and then Shooter Jennings, Waylon Jennings’ son, who was booked after the Turnpike Troubadours canceled earlier this summer.
As replacement bands go, this is a great one, Unnerstall said, and people are looking forward to it.
“It’s basically three concerts in one show, so it’s going to be a lot of fun and we expect big crowds,” he added.
The opening night concert, which begins immediately after the queen contest, will feature Christian rock singer Micah Tyler. The queen coronation ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Unnerstall said the queen candidates have done a great job selling tickets and representing the Fair.
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.
Also on tap for Fair week is chain saw carving, the Brew Fest and Wing Ding competition, daily children’s games and contests, and live music daily in the Entertainment Tent.