The countdown is on for the Washington Town and Country Fair which opens Wednesday, Aug. 7.
The five-day festival is less than a month away and Chairman Al Behr promises it will be summer’s last blast, which also is this year’s theme.
Coming up with the Fair theme is the chairman’s job each year and Behr said he had six or seven ideas, but when he started thinking about it, “Summer’s Last Blast,” seemed most appropriate.
“I grew up across the river and back then you didn’t see your friends all of the time so the Fair was a great time to get together with everyone before school started and that really continued all the way through college,” he said.
“I think most people today still see it as summer’s last blast because summer is coming to a close and school is getting ready to start,” he said.
Behr sat down with The Missourian recently to talk about Fair preparations. He said planning is on schedule and the Fair Board is “very excited” about the lineup, from the Main Stage entertainment, changes in the motor sports arena, a new midway company and the return of many Fair favorites like the queen contest, Agri-Land, the Family Fun Center, contests and livestock shows.
The new carnival company is PBJ Happee Day Shows which will showcase several new rides, he noted.
“I think one of the greatest things about our Fair is that it’s all inclusive with your season pass — giving you access to all of the shows, entertainment and rides for one price,” he said.
The chairman said residents will start seeing a lot of activity on the fairgrounds as on-site preparations get started. He doesn’t anticipate any problems with the set-up.
“The Fair is really a well-oiled machine and everything comes together so well thanks to our board and the many volunteers,” he said. “It would be impossible to list all of the individuals and service organizations that work together for this annual event, but it is a testament to the community we live in.”
Behr said he’s excited about the Main Stage lineup which includes country music singer Justin Moore Thursday night, the return of REO Speedwagon Friday evening, veteran rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd Saturday night, and country music band Parmalee closing out the Fair Sunday evening.
“It’s hard to say what I’m most excited about. I really think we have a great lineup and we’ve heard a lot of positive things about all of the groups,” he said.
“Justin Moore has new music out and people seem real excited about him. I think this could make our Thursday night pretty big,” he said. “People also are excited about REO returning after they only got a few songs in last year before the big storm hit.”
Behr said he doesn’t know what to expect when Lynyrd Skynyrd takes the stage Saturday night.
“They’ve been around a long time, but are still going strong. That has the potential to be a crazy night,” he said.
The band Parmalee also has new music out, Behr said, and he expects a large crowd for that show as well.
“I think overall we have a good range of music for all ages,” he added.
The Fair Board also is excited about the new concert stage which was put to use for the first time last year.
“It’s a great facility and the entertainers love it,” Behr said. “It’s also probably why REO agreed to come back because it provided great shelter from the storm last year and their equipment didn’t get ruined.”
Kicking off the Main Stage lineup will again be the Fair Queen Contest Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Twenty-five girls will compete for the title.
Behr said the lineup in the motor sports arena has been changed up a bit this year.
“Since we overlap with the Missouri State Fair this year, we won’t have the rodeo Thursday night,” he said. “Instead we’ve switched to Monster Trucks along with MX Trick Riders and a Tuff Truck competition. It’s been awhile since we’ve had Monster Trucks and people seem excited about it.”
Behr said bull riding will return on Wednesday night and the field class and garden tractor pull, and “always popular” truck and mini-rod pulls are scheduled for Friday.
“On Saturday, instead of sprint cars, we will have UTV racing and then stadium motocross racing on Sunday,” he said.
Along with the Fair favorites, several new events and contests are planned, said Behr.
Glass-blowing demonstrations by Astral Glass of New Haven will take place daily under the First Aid Pavilion and a spraypaint artist will create masterpieces all five days.
Some of the new contests under the Family Fun Center include Real Moms of WashMO and a Beat the Parents game show. There also will be teddy bear stuffing fun and a messy play zone.
The chairman’s event this year will be Woody’s Menagerie featuring barnyard races Wednesday through Sunday.
The People’s Choice Brewfest, which made its debut last year, will return on Sunday and be expanded.
Behr said Mother Nature is always the great unknown for the Fair, but he’s hopeful with the event being held a little bit later this year and temps being cooler than last year, the weather will hold out.
“We’re knocking on wood, but the weather pattern has been better so we’ll see,” he said.
Before the Fair opens, Behr said there are two activities for residents to participate in — the run/walk scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 3, at 7 a.m. and the Fair Parade Sunday, Aug. 4, at 4 p.m. The after-parade party will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Main and Elm parking lots.
“We’re really excited about the whole lineup and invite everyone to come out — it will be summer’s last blast, so don’t miss it,” he said.