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The countdown is on for the Washington Town and Country Fair, which opens in just three weeks.

Chairman Joe Maniaci said planning is on schedule for the five-day festival.

“Some cleanup work should get started this week,” Maniaci told The Missourian. “Everything is going very well and that credit goes to Fair Board members who are working their tails off.”

The Fair will open Wednesday, Aug. 2, and run through Sunday, Aug. 6, at the city fairgrounds.

This year’s theme is Fairadise and Maniaci promises five days of fun and entertainment for the entire family.

“We are a one-ticket-price Fair, which means all of the midway rides, shows, exhibits and entertainment are included in your admission,” he said. “The only thing you have to pay for is your food and drink.”

Maniaci said he’s honored and excited to serve as chairman. This is his 11th year on the board and he said he’s enjoyed every minute of it.

“I’m ready for the Fair to open,” he said. “I keep telling everyone it will be five days in Fairadise.”

Main Stage Lineup

Maniaci said he’s very excited about the big-name acts scheduled to perform.

“We’ll kick things off Wednesday night with Christian rock band, 7eventh Time Down, following the queen contest,” he said. “We’ve had a Christian band the last couple of years and it’s really worked out well.”

On Thursday night, country music singer Granger Smith and his alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr. will take the stage.

“Smith has a new song out and will be touring with Luke Bryan after the Fair, so he’s really up and coming,” Maniaci said. “I expect a really good turnout for his show.”

The headliner act for the Fair will be Friday night with legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“We expect Friday night to be huge crowd-wise,” Maniaci said. “They were here four years ago and it was one of our biggest nights ever. They put on quite a show and we’re looking forward to having them back.”

On Saturday, fairgoers will be treated to two shows with country/pop group Lone-

star taking the stage first followed by George Thorogood and the Destroyers on their rock party tour.

“This is something a little different for us, and the two groups have different music, but I think it’s going to be great,” Maniaci said. “Both have been here before and the crowds loved them. I guess you would say Lone-star is the opener, but both shows will be amazing.”

Closing out the big-name entertainment will be country music duo, Brothers Osborne.

“I’m looking for good things with them and I really hope we can get a crowd out there for the show,” Maniaci said. “Sunday nights have been a little slower for us in past years, so we’re hoping with Brothers Osborne we can attract a big crowd.”

9/11 Exhibit

The chairman’s event this year will be the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit, which Maniaci said will be both moving and educational for visitors.

This high-tech, 53-foot tractor trailer unfolds into a 1,000-square-foot exhibit, manned by New York City firefighters.

The memorial will provide interactive education, including artifacts such as the steel beams from the Twin Towers, documentary videos, recordings of first responders radio transmissions and live tours by firefighters.

“I’ve only watched the video on it and it’s amazing,” Maniaci said. “I think this will be a must-see for fairgoers.”

Maniaci said local first responders will escort the exhibit when it arrives in Washington sometime Tuesday, Aug. 1.

The exhibit will be open all five days from 1 to 7 p.m. only. It will be located near the North (shuttle) gate.

A full lineup of interactive activities will take place under the Family Fun Center tent, including kids contests, Lego building, Ronald McDonald, crafts, the Bubble Bus, science shows and dance parties.

There also will be strolling entertainment on the grounds again this year, including a stilt walker, mime, magician, juggler and princesses. Fairies riding on an enchanted wagon are planned for Friday and Saturday.

Also returning after a couple of years’ hiatus will be glass blowing demonstrations by Astral Glass. Metal art demos also are planned.

Motor Sports Arena

Maniaci said the motor sports arena action will kick off with bull riding opening night.

“This has become a Fair staple and people really seem to enjoy watching it,” he said.

Something new on Thursday night will be freestyle Amercian bullfighting.

“This should be very entertaining and we hope people will come down and check it out,” Maniaci said.

The Lucas Oil PPL Western Series traditional pro-stock tractor and truck pulls will take place Friday followed by the garden tractor, field class tractor and pro-truck, tractor and mini-rod pulls Saturday.

Stadium motocross returns on Sunday, Maniaci said, which is a crowd favorite.

Other Activities

Agri-Land will be back with a full schedule of events all five days.

Fairgoers also can check bucket drummers, a rollover simulator and Puzzlemania on the grounds.

The Robinson Carving Company will offer daily carving shows and the Junior Fair Board will run several activities, including Race to VIP, the teen pig chase, a photo booth, bounce house and a dunk tank.

Improvements

A few improvements have been made to the fairgrounds, but the layout is generally the same as last year, Maniaci said.

“One big improvement people won’t actually see, but will make a difference, is putting in three-phase electric for the Main Stage,” he said. “In the past, we’ve used two to three generators onsite to keep everything up and running.”

Weather

Maniaci says he’s not the type of guy to constantly check the weather, and no matter what Mother Nature brings the Fair Board will make the best of it.

“I’m definitely not a weather watcher, plus it always seems to change in a day’s time anyway,” he said.

Instead, he’s focused on putting on the best five days for fairgoers.

“I do want to thank the Fair Board, all of our sponsors, the Chamber and city staff, including police, fire and ambulance, and the many volunteers for all they do every year in supporting and working at the Fair,” he said. “We truly couldn’t do this without them.”