Jimmy Lane: Country music, fairs go together like apple and pie

Jimmy Lane

For many of us, our first taste of live country music has been courtesy of the local country fair. I think we all have fond memories of being a child and going to the fair. The thrill of scary rides, the delicious tastes of corn dogs and cotton candy and the challenge of winning that giant stuffed bear that seems to be just a little out of our reach. For as long as there have been carnies taunting us to try to win something for our little lady friend, country music shows have been a staple of the fair.

I remember always showing up at the grandstands hours before the show hoping to grab front row seats to see the same stars I loved hearing on the radio. My first live country show was Kitty Wells, and I sat front and center while in my early teens. I remember seeing Dottie West, Jim Ed Brown and Don Williams at local country fairs at towns so small the mere thought a star so big could possibly find the town was hard for my young mind to imagine. 

There are many reasons why going to see a country show at the fair is ideal, but the best is the price. In many cases, the show is free with your fair admission.

This year, the lineup at the local fairs is pretty amazing. Mel Tillis, Emerson Drive and Jimmy Wayne are at the Washington County Fair this weekend in Kingston, R.I. The Brooklyn Fair has Restless Heart, Sawyer Brown and Jason Michael Carroll Aug. 23 and 24. Trick Pony and Josh Gracin will be at the Woodstock Fair Labor Day weekend. Steve Azar and Heartland are coming to Hebron Sept. 9 while George Jones, SheDaisy and Phil Vassar will play the Durham Fair Sept. 22 to 24.

Country tidbits: Mohegan Sun reported when Kellie Pickler was in town with the Brad Paisley Bonfires and Amplifiers tour, she managed a big win playing the Wheel of Fortune slot machines. ... Also, Glen Campbell made a surprise appearance and performed “Folsom Prison Blues” with Paisley. Campbell had just finished his own show at the Cabaret Theatre at Mohegan Sun. ... Denise Jackson’s book about her 27-year marriage to Alan Jackson is a best-seller. Not only that, it made it all the way to No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. ... Billy Currington discussed the child abuse he suffered from his stepfather in an issue of People magazine. He completed a 30-day trauma recovery program and will meet with therapists later this month who specialize in childhood trauma. Earlier this summer, Currington canceled all his tour dates for the remainder of the year and went on voice rest because of acute laryngitis. ... Support finding a cure for MS. Make a bid today on a pair of tickets to the sold out Jimmy Buffett concert at Mohegan Sun. Call WCTY with your bid before 9 a.m. Friday.

Jimmy Lane is the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. disc jockey and program director at WCTY (97.7 FM) in Norwich. E-mail him at jimmy@wcty.com.