The Washington Town & Country Fair will feature a total of nine Main Stage concerts over five days the first week of August.
The final lineup for Saturday night, Aug. 4, was announced Friday morning by Amanda Griesheimer, marketing director for the Fair and Chamber.
“We saved the best for last,” said Griesheimer.
The “Life’s Whatcha Make It” tour, featuring country music star Jake Owen with Chris Janson and Jordan Davis, will include a stop in Washington. Concertgoers can expect a three-hour show that Saturday night.
“It’s going to be our biggest night,” Griesheimer told The Missourian. “We are very excited to bring these three entertainers to the Washington Fair.”
Having an almost all-country lineup, with the exception of Christian singer Josh Wilson opening night, is a little different for the Fair, but officials were quick to point out the absence of rock is not the start of a new trend.
“We love having rock ’n’ roll at the Fair, and we looked into a number of acts during the booking process, but the pieces just didn’t come together for that this year,” explained Fair Manager Jennifer Giesike.
“While budget is a key part of the decision-making process, routing also is a huge issue,” she said. “Sometimes entertainers already have shows booked in other parts of the country before or after our Fair and it isn’t feasible for them to get to Washington. Other times, entertainers have already booked dates in St. Louis for the summer, and venues typically have restrictions on how soon another show can be booked within the area.”
Tim Poepsel, who handles the booking process and manages the backstage operations during the Fair, said there are a lot of variables in booking entertainment.
“If we don’t feel that what is available is going to be a big draw here, or up to our standards, we aren’t going to pursue it,” he said.
Fair Chairman Brian Gildehaus said he knows some fairgoers will be disappointed by the lack of rock.
“Sometimes it just isn’t possible,” he said. “At the end of the day, we try to deliver the best lineup and value we can for the fairgoers, and I’m proud of what we have put together for 2018.
“There will be no shortage of action with nine entertainers in five days,” he added.
Griesheimer said Jake Owen is not a newcomer to the Washington Fair. He performed in 2012 when he was still making a name on the country music scene, she said.
“He’s now a country music star,” she said, “and puts on a high-energy show that’s a lot of fun.”
In September 2011, Owen achieved his first No. 1 hit with the title track to his third studio album, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” as did “Alone with You,” “The One That Got Away” and “Anywhere With You.”
His fourth studio album, “Days of Gold,” produced two singles with its title track, and the No. 1 single “Beachin.”
Owen has toured as an opening act for several other country artists, including Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Sugarland, Keith Urban and Jason Aldean.
Griesheimer said up-and-coming country music singers Chris Janson and Jordan Davis also will draw a crowd.
Davis’ debut single, “Singles You Up,” came out in mid-2017 and is getting a lot of play time, she said.
“Janson is from Perryville, Mo., so we expect him to draw fans from his hometown and throughout Missouri,” she said.
Janson has written singles for Tim McGraw among others, and played harmonica for Lee Brice. He also recorded a full-length album, “Buy Me a Boat, Everybody.”
The other Main Stage concerts already announced include country music singer/songwriter Walker Hayes for Thursday, Aug. 2; a Red Dirt triple feature Friday night, Aug. 3, with three acts taking the stage — Chris Knight, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, and The Turnpike Troubadours; and country band Sawyer Brown, who will close out the Main Stage lineup Sunday night, Aug. 5.