Tuesday, July 30 – Kellie Pickler 8:30 p.m. in the Grandstand
Kellie Pickler’s life has played out like a classic country song. From her hardscrabble, small town roots to center stage on American Idol to the top of the country charts, Kellie has proven that talent, beauty, hard work and determination are a potent combination. Like her heroes, Dolly, Tammy and Loretta, Pickler has captured the loyalty of the country audience with her gift for being genuine and heartfelt in her life and art.
Pickler’s current release, 100 Proof, is a collection of songs that reverberate with an emotional intensity hinted at on her first two albums, but fully blossoming in this current season of the young artist’s life. “When I auditioned for American Idol I was not an artist,” the season five alum admits. “So from Idol to the first record to this record, I really tried to find myself because there’s a difference between a singer and an artist.”
On 100 Proof, Pickler revels in that difference. Always engaging, her voice has become more compelling as she’s found a way to tap into her life experience and produce art that resonates profoundly. “For me country music is about telling stories and behind every country song there is a story about somebody’s life,” Pickler says. “It’s about real things. Our fans gravitate toward things that are relatable so when they get into a car and turn on the radio and hear a song like ‘I Wonder’ or ‘Mother’s Day,’ they might identify with that story and feel they are not alone.”
American Idol opened a door for Pickler to start making her dreams come true. She finished sixth on the fifth season of the popular competition and signed with 19 Recordings/BNA Records. Her debut set, Small Town Girl, launched with the sassy hit “Red High Heels.” Pickler continued to earn fans with “I Wonder” and “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind.” Her self-titled sophomore album further built on her reputation for delivering songs that were both substantive and entertaining, including the hits “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful,” “Best Days of Your Life” and “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You.”
Wednesday, July 31 - Sawyer Brown 8:30 p.m. in the Grandstand
The world of Sawyer Brown is filled with dirt roads, small towns, little thrills, tiny moments and intimate connections… but mostly, it’s about recognition of how major those things really can be: every day people seeing themselves in each other, the 5 men onstage and their songs. For the Apopka, Florida-bred band, these are songs of the common man delivered without mercy, only a relentless commitment to the freedom and fun that only a night out among good friends can allow.
“We got some tall tales that we love to tell May not be true, but we sure do remember’em well We work real hard to have a little fun Roll up our sleeves & get the job done…” — “The Boys & Me” “We came out of the notion we were there to entertain people, to make sure everybody had a good time,” concedes creative catalyst Miller, known as much for his hyperkinetic performances as for writing “Some Girls Do,” “The Dirt Road,” “Hard To Say,” “Step That Step,” “This Time,” “The Boys & Me,” “Thank God For You” and “The Walk.” “You’re looking at a bunch of blue collar people here, who were raised to put the work in, to make sure the people are satisfied and who really love being on that stage and seeing the people letting it all go. Somebody once told me `If you can’t have fun at a Sawyer Brown show, you can’t have fun…’ I don’t know, but it would sure be nice if it was true.”
After 23 years, 3500+ shows, gold and platinum albums, a smattering of awards and more long odds than any act you can think of, Sawyer Brown remains a band you can count on. Never ones to get above their raising, they have a deep appreciation for the heart of small towns, rural realities, lives lived in common places and truths so basic they go unnoticed.
Thursday, August 1st - Dustin Lynch 8:30 p.m. in the Grandstand
“Shhh!” The note on the Bluebird Café’s Facebook page says it all: customers who visit the Nashville songwriters club – instrumental in the development of Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Kathy Mattea – are expected to keep quiet and listen to the words from some of Music City’s most influential composers.
Listening has an added benefit – it gives the listener a chance to learn.
That’s how singer-songwriter Dustin Lynch used the Bluebird. And he used it intensely. He rented an apartment behind the venue’s back parking lot and literally walked to the Bluebird several times a week to listen and learn about the mysterious art of creating songs from some of Nashville’s most important writers. Don Schlitz (“The Gambler”), Tony Arata (“The Dance”), Paul Overstreet (“Forever And Ever, Amen”) – all are mainstays of the Bluebird legend, and it was at their proverbial feet that he picked up key insights about the writing process.
“I was soaking it in, trying to be a sponge,” Lynch says. “I was mainly trying to hear the story behind the song, how it came about, what it’s really about. There’s something about understanding the songwriter’s realm. You get a little more grip on the way it was written and why it was written and how they got to the finished product.”
That education paid off in a big way for Lynch. He signed with Broken Bow Records – the home of Jason Aldean and sister label to Stoney Creek Records (home to Thompson Square) .His debut single, “Cowboy and Angels,” is on its way to Platinum with nearly three quarters of a million singles sold. “Cowboys and Angels” – which has become an iconic, modern day classic – reached #2 on both the Billboard and Mediabase Country Songs charts and has earned Lynch two 2012 FOX American Country Award nominations for “Single of the Year – New Artist” and “Video of the Year – New Artist.”
Friday, August 2nd - Kenny Rogers 8:30 p.m. in the Grandstand
Known for his instantly identifiable raspy vocals and an extraordinary ability to vividly inhabit each song he performs, Kenny Rogers has enjoyed great success during his storied career of nearly five and a half decades. A groundbreaking recording artist, distinctive vocalist and consummate entertainer, the legendary music icon is one of the elite few whose voice and face are instantly recognized the world over.
The country and pop superstar has endeared music lovers around the globe with his amazing songs, heartfelt performances and rare storytelling ability while receiving countless awards for his music and charity work, including three GRAMMY Awards, 18 American Music Awards, 11 People’s Choice Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards and five Country Music Association Awards. In addition, he has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Entertainment Buyers Association, is a recipient of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music, and in 1990, Kenny was honored with the Horatio Alger Award, given to those who have distinguished themselves despite humble beginnings.
Rogers is the RIAA’s 8th-best-selling male artist of all time with 1 Diamond album, 19 Platinum albums, 31 Gold albums and sales of more than 120 million records worldwide. His Greatest Hits has sold over 24 million copies worldwide. The first country artist to consistently sell out arenas, Rogers has played to millions of fans around the world. Against all odds, he has charted a record within each of the last seven decades (50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, 2010’s).
Rogers has recorded 24 No. 1 songs (including “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Lucille,” “She Believes In Me,” “Through The Years,” and “Islands In The Stream”) and 12 No. 1 albums. Rogers’ 2011 release, The Love Of God, became his 21st Top 10 Country album.
Saturday, August 3rd - Chris Cagle 8:30 p.m. in the Grandstand
Ask Chris Cagle what’s most important to him and you can bet he’ll answer this way: “Family, ranch, music. That’s it.” This response is seemingly simple for a man whose professional credits include two gold albums, two No. 1 albums and 12 charted songs. From 2000-2008, Cagle released an almost nonstop catalog of hits that resulted in a scorching hot career. Cagle’s musical character and burning ambition never wavered but today, Cagle’s personal perspective has mellowed. 2012′s forthcoming album is, in more ways than one, a new lease on life.
Born in DeRidder, La., and raised “all over,” Chris set off for Nashville after trying his hand at college in Texas and finding the pull to pursue music too strong to ignore. Like many young artists, he spent several years working odd jobs in Nashville and scraping up enough cash to record four original songs for a demo tape. Thanks to a couple of chance meetings and the opportunity to be heard by Scott Hendricks, Chris was signed to Virgin Records in 2000 – that first album featured the unaltered version of his demo songs. Chris quickly earned critical and commercial success and attracted a legion of fans that included industry heavyweights and country fans alike. Cagle’s first number one smash, “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out,” remains a fan favorite.
For Chris, the professional success and sales were gratifying but his personal life blistered under the spotlight. “I was tired of who I was in this business,” Chris says. “I had become somebody who I didn’t want to be.” He bowed out and retreated to Marietta, Oklahoma, a place where he could distance himself from the industry, reconnect with his roots and take back control of his life. He spent the next couple of years staking his claim on home life and embracing a lifelong dream: building his family’s home, “Big Horse Ranch,” with his own two hands, nail by nail. Chris also met his wife Kay, who he describes in the song “Let There Be Cowgirls”: ‘Something you can’t tame/She’s a mustang/ The heartbeat of the heartland.’ “The worst days we’ve had together are better than the best I’ve had with other people,” Chris says. He also found a new identity as a father. On the birth of his daughter in 2010, Chris says “she made me want to be better at everything. Period. I’ve never cared enough about myself to take responsibility for my faults; she made me man right up.”
Cagle’s 2012 release from Bigger Picture Group, under the working title, “Back In The Saddle” is his homecoming – a rekindling of his creative flame and a roaring reminder of his rock-infused country roots. It’s something he originated and what he does best: relatable, back-roads and familiar while also being a striking form of country music worth getting excited about. While assuring his fans that the Chris they love hasn’t changed, Cagle sees his new persona as a better version of himself. “I want my music to be an environment, to strike chords, passions, memories, faults, loves, angers and redemptions,” Chris says. “Imagine my music just on the outside of town right where the road turns to the rural route. A dirt road cul-de-sac with trucks all parked in a circle. I would love to see my music fit into that.” This Chris Cagle may look a little different to those who are used to a louder, harder-partying version of the star. Rest assured, Chris still gets “as rowdy as a redneck can get,” but these days he confines himself to a smaller space – the 40’x40’ stage. And when the show’s over, he puts on a different hat and heads back to hearth and home. It is there that Chris has found balance and a new passion. Today, his biggest off-stage thrill is training and raising cutting horses, and when he puts on his cowboy boots and favorite hat, it is because he’s living the true cowboy lifestyle, not because he’s putting on a show.
Chris’ self-proclaimed version of “redneck rock ‘n roll,” has been firing people up for over a decade, and this time around, Chris is chomping at the bit for an energetic reintroduction to the country music community that’s been a long time coming. Fans will still see flashes of the Chris they know but they’ll also see the joy and confidence that home life provides him. “I’m happy. You’re gonna hear the smile through the radio,” Chris says of his new record. “For the first time since April 2001, I am truly happy to do it; I have a new lease on all of it.” Chris is back with all the energy of a newcomer and the wisdom of a veteran and the renewed passion is contagious. “I’m at a place in my life where I think about everyone I’m working with, especially the fans. I thank God that I’m in a place in my heart where I am grateful and aware. I am very, very, very lucky.”
Swifty Swine Racing and Swimming Pigs
The little piggies spend their youth at the race track, but never fail to bring home the bacon. Their careers last a single season, before they eat themselves out of a job. They’re known as the Swifty Swine Racing and Swimming Pigs. While some little piggies hang out in a muddy barn yard getting fat for their trip to the stockyards, Swifty Swine Productions, Racing Pigs are busy shaken’ the bacon around a 150 oval track at some of the nation’s biggest fairs, festivals and special events. These little porkers pound the turf at a blazing 15 mpg, and all for an Oreo cookie. The winner gets the cookie, the loser gets the crumbs.
You will go hog wild as little Swifty (the swimming pig) plunges into the tank in an effort to break the current World record.
Surprising to some, these little piggies travel 11 months a year and appear before millions of people. They criss-cross the country in their shiny red trailer equipped with amenities not found in any barnyard. These little superstars enjoy such luxuries as air-conditioning, heating and their very own piggy potty. Theres even color TB and stereo for the little piggies leisure time.
They are bathed daily by their handlers and while in training chow down or should we say pig out on high protein pig pellets, keeping them in tip top condition. If this isn’t enough, they are visited promptly every 30 days by a veterinarian who checks them over from snout to tail and updates their travel documents. Their every need is attended to by their handlers who are at their side 24 hours a day.
ELEPHANT ENCOUNTER is an educational and entertaining experience for the entire family, as we guide you through an up close and personal encounter with the worlds largest animals. No place, anywhere, will you see elephants like you are going to see here at the fair.
You’ll be inspired as you experience the full force of each elephant’s unique individual personality. We are lucky to have both species of elephants. Cora is a 49-year-old Asian elephant, weighing in at 9000 pounds and Shannon our 25-year-old African elephant, weighing in at 4500.
This could change the way you think and feel about these magnificent creatures forever. These are not circus elephants, nor are they zoo elephants. They are family elephants and have been owned and cared for by the Morris family for virtually their entire lives. A family who represents 3 generations who have dedicated their entire lives to the study and care of these elephants.
Don’t miss this experience at the fair!