Band a boon to 4-H event

Lonestar, at top of chart, to open 102nd annual fair

More than 1,000 exhibits

July 30, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

One of the hottest bands in country music opens the Carroll County 4-H Fair tonight: Lonestar rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart this week with the song "Amazed," and no one is more amazed than the fair organizers who had barely heard of the band when they originally booked it.

"It's sheer luck," said Andy Cashman, a fair volunteer who helped organize the concert, which begins at 8 p.m. at the show ring that otherwise is home to tractor pulls, horse jumping and other "country" activities.

The sheer luck Cashman talks about has shone on the fair two years in a row.

Last year, the up-and-coming band the fair's entertainment committee chose was the Dixie Chicks, who hit it big at the Grammy Awards a few months later and have two singles on the charts now.

"We just had no idea," Cashman said. "The promoter who talked to us said he thought they were going to be good, but he really didn't know."

It was two years ago, at the 100th fair, that the fair began booking nationally known music acts. That year, it was Mila Mason, who has not achieved the success of Dixie Chicks and Lonestar, but whom concertgoers enjoyed, Cashman said.

The concerts began as a way for the fair to raise more money, without selling out to the kind of carnival atmosphere that other fairs have adopted, said Donald Lippy, fair chairman.

The fair, in its 102nd year, is one of the few remaining fairs left in the state that are free of commercial profit. The main attraction is the more than 1,000 exhibits of everything from steers to bicycle safety displays that nearly 800 youths have worked on all year. The fair has no midway -- not even kiddie rides -- and all concession profits go into recouping the cost of putting on the fair.

Admission to the fair and parking have always been free, and everyone wants to keep it that way, Cashman said.

But it costs money to put on the event, and the concert -- tickets are $10 -- was considered one way to raise a few thousand dollars, provide wholesome entertainment and draw more fair-goers, Lippy said.

"It's great advertisement for the fair for the rest of the week, and we're letting the 4-H kids and the volunteers [into the concert] this year for free," Lippy said.

Each year, the concerts have been sponsored by local businesses. This year, Barnes Chevrolet and Van Sant Plumbing and Heating are sharing the cost, Lippy said.

Last year, a scheduling conflict required the Dixie Chicks to perform Tuesday night, competing with sheep events, Lippy said. The committee made sure this year's concert was on a Friday night, when no other events are scheduled.

Concession stands will open at 6 p.m., and the music starts at 8 p.m.

The fair's exhibits and judging begin tomorrow at 9 a.m., and continue through Aug. 7. Carroll County Farmers' Market will set up at 8 a.m., and remain through 1 p.m.

Tomorrow's events include a rocket contest at 10 a.m. and an antique tractor show at 11 a.m.

Sunday features the parade and farm queen contest. The petting barn opens Monday. Tuesday is "Children's Day." Wednesday includes the cake auction. Thursday is Senior Citizens' Day. Friday night's livestock auction draws big money when the 4-H animal projects go on the block.

All week long, volunteers will make and serve home-style specials, including fried chicken and barbecued pork, which draw crowds at lunch and dinner.

4-H members such as Josh Zacharko of Manchester are busy washing and grooming their animals this week in preparation to take them to the fair. Josh, 11, doesn't live on a farm, so he keeps his animals at the home of his 4-H leader, Candy Cole.

The six club members help each other, working on each other's animals. Yesterday, Josh was washing lamb No. 1015 -- some don't ever get names -- which belongs to Cole's son, Tim. No. 1015 was bleating loudly, its head secured with a rope and stand to keep it from running away.

"They don't like getting washed," said Josh as he lathered dish-washing liquid into the wool of the Suffolk crossbreed.

Pub Date: 7/30/99

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