Country music hit-maker Jason Michael Carroll from Youngsville, N.C., will be one of the entertainment highlights of this summer’s Winneshiek County Fair.
The Winneshiek County Fair Board announced the featured grandstand acts during the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday. This year’s fair runs from Tuesday, July 8, through Saturday, July 12.
Carroll, who takes the stage Wednesday night during Fair week, is gearing up to release his first new album since 2011, featuring the single “Close Enough.” He’ll be on a cross-country tour and travels overseas to perform for the military this year.
After being discovered at a local talent competition in 2004 and later signed to the Arista Nashville label in 2006, Carroll released his debut album “Waitin’ In The Country.” The album produced three Top 40 hits, including “Alyssa Lies,” “Livin’ Our Love Song,” and “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead” and soared
to number one on the US Country charts, selling nearly half a million copies. Both of Carroll’s following albums, Growing Up Is Getting Old and Numbers have charted on the Billboard Top 200.
He has opened for Brooks & Dunn, Trace Adkins and Alan Jackson, and was a featured part of Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride’s 2008 tour. He has also performed on Good Morning America, at the CMA Music Festival and at the Grand Ole Opry.
The Fair kicks off Tuesday. The Bill Riley Talent Show is Tuesday afternoon. Opening ceremonies with the VFW begin at 3:30 p.m. followed by the fair queen coronation. The Distinguished Service Award will be presented afterward, and the Jim Busta Band gives a free performance from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Judging for the Winneshiek Medical Center’s “William Smith beard look-alike” contest begins at 6:30 p.m. in the grandstand. The contest is in conjunction with 100-year anniversary of Winneshiek Medical Center.
Cory Farley, the son of Brenda Krietzer and Joe Farley, both of Decorah, performs in the grandstand Tuesday night. His current album “Songs From the Bed of My Truck” contains 11 original songs, 10 of which were solely written by Farley, who grew up in rural Decorah and now lives in Nashville.
The always popular Upper Iowa Speedway stock car races are the featured entertainment Thursday night.
“They pack the place every time. People just love it,” Fair Board President Gary Schutte said of the races.
Friday night’s entertainment is still being booked, and CC Bulls and Barrells return to the grandstand Saturday night.
Fair buttons, good for all the grandstand entertainment, are $20 in advance and $25 during the Fair. They are available from Fair Board members and area businesses.
Fair Business Manager Edna Schrandt said the Fair is fortunate to have sponsors that keep the entertainment affordable and who provide the prizes for cooking contest and other events.
“They’re really good to us. That’s why we have such a successful fair. It is good people,” Schrandt said.
Fair admission and parking are free.
Evans United will return to the midway during Fair week.
“They’re very popular and good people to work with,” Schrandt said.
She also noted the wide variety of food offered, including the return of deep fried cheese curds that debuted last year.
“Come every day to eat. Have the most delicious food in Northeast Iowa,” Schrandt said.
4-H and FFA remain the core of the Fair, both for livestock and community building projects, according to Schutte.
“That’s why we do it – it’s for the kids,” he said.
Schutte was a member of the Bloomfield Junior Farmers and showed pigs and dairy cattle.
“When I was a kid, it was the highlight of my year,” he said. “We did it for a good time and we learned something too. You don’t win every day.”
Those lessons are still important today, he said.
“It gives them a reason to do something productive rather than something that might get them into mischief,” Schutte said.
Schrandt said 4-H/FFA entries remain consistently strong.
“I attribute that to such good 4-H and FFA volunteers and volunteer leaders,” she said.
“It’s a nice problem to have … wondering where you’re going to put everything .. some fairs really don’t have much of a livestock show any more. We’re very blessed we still have a lot of livestock in the area,” Schutte said. “Kids can be involved. It doesn’t matter if it’s a steer or a rabbit … when a kid gets to show it makes his or her day.”
Other attractions at this year’s Fair include the kiddy tractor pull, cooking contests, music groups, an exhibit hall, educational programs and the petting zoo. For more information, visit the Fair’s new website, winneshiekcountyfair.org.
“Come to the Fair and be ready to have a good time,” Schutte said.