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Country-fried fair: Honky-tonk music reigns until symphony plays

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Catherine W. Idzerda
July 18, 2013

JANESVILLE-It's obvious that almost all of this year's grandstand entertainment at the Rock County 4-H Fair will be county music.

Of course, that doesn't mean there won't be some variation. From Tuesday through Saturday, July 23-27, fair visitors will hear new country, classic country, traditional country and amateur country.

Then on Sunday, July 28, the universe will alter its course, and grandstand entertainment will include horse pulling in the morning and-brace yourself-the Beloit Janesville Symphony in the afternoon.

Those symphony folks might be professionals with years of classical training, but I'd like to see them play "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." For their sanity and for ours, I hope they won't attempt it.

This year, two performances will require additional tickets. The other concerts are free with gate admission.

Here's the lineup:

-- Florida Georgia Line, 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 23. Here's another demonstration of the fair's uncanny ability to pick musicians seconds before they hit it big. Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, 'N Sync, Tiffany and a variety of others have appeared at the fair on their way up.

Florida Georgia Line's first full-length album, "Here's to the Good Times," was No. 1 on the country charts, and several singles skyrocketed on the country and mainstream charts. The group's top hits include "Get Your Shine On" and "Cruise."

The show is free with gate admission.

-- Bellamy Brothers and Ronnie Milsap, 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 24. The Bellamy Brothers have had 10 No. 1 hits on the country charts and a number of crossover hits on the pop charts. Classics include "Let Your Love Flow" and "If I Told You You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold it Against Me."

The brothers also have beautiful voices-rich and mellow, never country corny.

Ronnie Milsap is another country-pop artist with a beautifully trained voice that doesn't have to resort to vocal histrionics. Milsap's hits include "It Was Almost Like a Song," "Smokey Mountain Rain" and "Any Day Now."

The show is free with gate admission.

-- Hunter Hayes, 8 p.m. Thursday, July 25. Hunter Hayes is 21 years old, but he retains that boy-band charm that makes young women scream and young men consider styling gel.

His voice is smooth, a combination of pop and country stylings. The songs are easy, upbeat and accessible.

The cost for Hayes' concert is $10 plus gate admission.

-- The Texaco Country Showdown with Jamie Campbell and the Redneck Romeos, 8 p.m. Friday, July 26. Fair officials wisely decided to give "Rock County Idol" a rest. Instead, fairgoers will get a slightly more polished version of that event and one with higher stakes.

The showdown is a national event that begins with more than 450 local talent contests. Winners advance to state competitions, the regional competitions and, finally, a televised national finals.

After the show, the country rock band Jamie Campbell and the Redneck Romeos will perform.

The show is free with gate admission.

-- Trace Adkins, 8 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Unapologetically country, Trace Adkins could make a Puccini aria sound like a song about tractors, cold beer, sexy women, and God and county-not in any particular order.

Since 1996, when Adkins first appeared on the country charts with "There's a Girl in Texas" to 2012's "Million Dollar View," the singer has kept his fans happy with a steady stream of danceable, drinkable, singable songs.

His hits include "Ladies Love a Country Boy," "One Hot Mama," "All I Ask For Anymore" and "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk."

Tickets for this show are $30 for reserved seats and $20 for general admission plus gate admission.

-- Wisconsin Horse Pullers, 10 a.m. Sunday, July 28. Big horses compete to see which one can pull the heaviest sled.

Hits include "Where's My Feed Bag," "At Least I'm Not a Dairy Cow" and "She Left Me For a Belgian." No real singing will take place at Sunday's event.

The event is free with gate admission.

-- Beloit Janesville Symphony, 6 p.m. Sunday, July 28. The theme of this symphony concert is "Hooray for Hollywood" and will feature music from television and movies, including "Jurassic Park," "Chariots of Fire," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter."

The show is free with gate admission.



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