The Main Stage lineup for the 2016 Washington Town and Country Fair will offer something for everyone with a mix of Christian, country and rock music.
The big-name entertainment was announced Saturday night at the Chamber of Commerce banquet by Nathan Deppe, Fair chairman.
The Washington Fair will open Wednesday, Aug. 3, and run through Sunday, Aug. 7, at the city fairgrounds.
A video showcasing some of the entertainment and exhibits was shown at the banquet, which had over 500 people in attendance.
For the third consecutive year, the Fair will feature a Christian band opening night, Finding Favour, immediately following the Queen Contest.
Finding Favour is a contemporary Christian music band from Vidalia, Ga. The band’s hits include “Slip On By,” “Say Amen” and “Shake the World.”
“Christian music is very popular right now and it’s done very well for us at the Fair,” said Jennifer Giesike, Chamber president and Fair manager.
On Thursday evening, country music singer/songwriter Frankie Ballard will take the stage. He has released one album each for Reprise Records and Warner Bros. Records.
Ballard’s hits include “It All Started With a Beer,” “Helluva Life” and “Young & Crazy.”
“Frankie Ballard is an up and coming artist and we’re very excited to have him at the Fair,” said Giesike. “His music is very fun and upbeat.”
Friday night’s headliner, expected to draw the biggest crowds of all five nights, will be legendary country music group Alabama. The band has 41 No. 1 hits to its credit.
Alabama’s biggest success came in the 1980s, where the band had over 27 No. 1 hits, seven multi-platinum albums and received numerous awards. Alabama’s first single on RCA Records, “Tennessee River,” began a streak of top singles, including “Love in the First Degree,” “Mountain Music.” “Dixieland Delight,” “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band),” and “Song of the South.”
“We are beyond excited to have Alabama at the Washington Fair,” said Giesike. “I truly feel this takes our Fair to another level because this band has been around for so long and they’re huge.”
Alabama will be the most expensive band ever booked for the Fair.
“We are definitely keeping our fingers crossed for great weather that night,” Giesike said.
On Saturday night, rocker Bret Michaels, who first gained fame as the lead vocalist of the band Poison, will return to the Fair after drawing big crowds last year.
Michaels also has several solo albums to his credit and has appeared in movies and TV shows, including the hit VH1 reality show “Rock of Love” and NBC’s reality show “Celebrity Apprentice 3,” which he won.
“Bret Michaels put on a fantastic show for us last year and when he ended his concert he said, ‘See you next year’ and we took him up on that offer,” Giesike said. “We had so many compliments about his show and he was so easy to work with we decided to have him back. So for those people who missed the show last year, they’re getting a second chance.”
Closing out the Fair Sunday evening will be husband and wife country music duo Thompson Square. Their sound is a combination classic rock, country and country-pop mix.
Thompson Square has topped the radio charts across the United States, Canada and Australia with No. 1 hits “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not,” “If I Didn’t Have You” and “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About.”
“I think this will be a strong Sunday night show. It will be a great way to end the Fair,” Giesike said.
Five Days of Fun
In addition to the Main Stage lineup, Deppe said the Fair will offer five days of family fun with motor sports action, livestock shows, midway rides and many contests and activities for people of all ages.
This year’s chairman’s event will be the Xpogo Stunt Team performing high-flying, risk-taking jumps on pogo sticks. The team will perform three shows each day.
The Fair also will celebrate the 20th year of AgriLand, said Deppe, which has always been a favorite of fairgoers.
Events in the motor sports arena will include bull riding, a rodeo, truck and tractor pulls, and Stadium Motocross.
New this year will be the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League, considered one of the premier pulling series in the U.S. It tours the country showcasing the most extreme trucks and tractors.
The carnival company, PBJ Happee Day Shows, will be back for the fourth year and is expected to have a new ride.
Opening night of the Fair will again feature the annual queen contest on the Main Stage. A total of 26 contestants will compete for the title. Prior to the coronation, an opening ceremony with the color guard will take place.
Two pre-Fair events, the run/walk and parade, will again be held the weekend prior to the Fair opening.
Deppe noted the Washington Town and Country Fair is unique in the fact that one ticket price includes all of the entertainment.
Deppe also talked about this year’s theme — Family Tradition — at the banquet.
“With my sister and me showing livestock for 10 years and our dad being on the Fair Board and chairman in 1990, one could say that Nicole and I grew up at the Fair, which left a huge imprint on our childhood years,” he said.
Deppe said the Fair has been a family tradition for so many families either as a volunteer, showing livestock or as an attendee.
The success of the Fair is due to the community, he said, and the generations of help from local families, businesses and volunteers.
He thanked the Chamber staff for its assistance each year and the city, parks department and ambulance, fire and police departments for their work at the Fair each year.
“We are so fortunate to live and be able to raise a family in a town like Washington,” he said. “With the community’s volunteer spirit, this town is able to accomplish anything it sets its mind to. This has been proven year after year by our great Washington Town and County Fair.
“So I hope this year will be another great family tradition and I see all of you and your families at the Fair.”