Local fair, big draws

September 13, 2007|By Brad Schleicher | Brad Schleicher,Sun reporter

Gretchen Wilson? Lonestar?

Sounds like the lineup of the Country Music Association awards or a big festival in Nashville, Tenn. But these two acts are headlining the Great Frederick Fair.

Kicking off this weekend, the 145th annual fair will offer nine nights of carnival rides and games, food, agricultural education and, of course, live entertainment.

In past years, the fair has attracted such popular acts as George Jones, Boxcar Willie, LeAnn Rimes and the Charlie Daniels Band.

According to Jim Grimes, chairman of the fair's entertainment committee, the caliber of artists at the fair is a big draw for people from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.

"We have an exceptional music lineup this year, and we're fortunate to still be able to attract some of the biggest names in country music," Grimes says. "But ultimately, getting such big-name artists to play at the fair is a lot harder than one may think."

According to Grimes, it depends on who's available. Grimes says because most artists don't visit or travel through Frederick on a regular basis, performing at the fair requires them to go out of their way.

The cost of acquiring a performer is another aspect to consider.

"When you go after certain artists," Grimes says, "you expect to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get them to perform." But because only 4,000 to 5,000 people can fit in front of the grandstand, it's not cost-effective to book super-expensive acts.

"These restrictions limit the number of tickets we can sell and how much we can spend on a performer," Grimes says. "In order to keep the ticket prices affordable for fairgoers, we have to take everything into account."

Despite such restrictions, Grimes and the rest of the committee have been able to attract popular country music performers year after year.

Although the fair features some great entertainment, Grimes says it still exists mostly for the promotion of agriculture.

"Our main goal for organizing the fair is to produce and present [as many] agriculture-based educational opportunities as possible," he says. "We need to develop the fair with the best interest of the general public, the county and the community in mind."

brad.schleicher@baltsun.com

Opening night for the Great Frederick Fair is 7 p.m.-10 p.m. tomorrow, and the fair runs through Sept. 22. Events are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily after opening night. Admission is $5 per person. Ages younger than 18 get in free before 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and those older than 65 are admitted free before 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Ticket prices to concerts vary. Tickets for admission, concerts or the carnival can be purchased at the gate or online at entrigate.com/gffticketing.

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