CHIPPEWA FALLS — When the 123rd annual Northern Wisconsin State Fair kicks off next summer, the biggest music act in the lineup will kick off the five-day festival.
Country singer Trace Adkins, who headlined Country Fest in 2011 and last played at Country Jam in 2017, will open the fair on Wednesday, July 8.
Ideally, the biggest act would be saved for the weekend, said fair director Rusty Volk.
“Having Trace Adkins on a Wednesday night is a little different for us,” Volk said. “We would like to have him on a weekend, but with scheduling and routing, that is what worked. It would be great to have a sellout crowd to kick off the opening night of the fair.”
Adkins, 57, is known for songs like “Ladies Love Country Boys,” “You’re Gonna Miss this,” and “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing.”
In 2016, the fairgrounds constructed a new, permanent stage costing $250,000, and added a larger, newer $100,000 grandstand that seats about 3,000 patrons. It is one of the main reasons Volk was able to land acts like the Beach Boys in 2016, country singer Martina McBride in 2017, and country duo Big & Rich last year.
Hairball, a rock cover band, will return for the second consecutive year, playing on Thursday, July 9. Hairball dubs themselves as a “bombastic celebration of arena rock.”
“They were extremely popular,” Volk said. “We had rave reviews, and a lot of requests to bring them back. I contacted them immediately after their performance.”
In a typical year, the “young, up-and-coming” country acts would be on Wednesday or Thursday night. With Adkins on Wednesday, Volk lined up a new country act, LANCO, to play on Friday, July 10. LANCO landed a CMT nomination for the song “Born to Love You,” and also got radio airplay for the hit “Greatest Love Story.”
“They are a transitional, younger country,” Volk said.
The lineup for Saturday, July 11, will feature two classic rock acts, with Grand Funk Railroad and Blue Oyster Cult. Volk said the two bands are not touring together next summer; he was given pricing options for each band individually, or a fee for bringing in both.
“You are looking at three hours of classic rock, doing songs everyone knows,” Volk said. “They’ll each do a 75- to 90-minute set, with an intermission. Those VIP tickets will probably sell fast. It brings a real value to Saturday night.”
Blue Oyster Cult is best known for “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” while Grand Funk Railroad has songs including “We’re An American Band” and “The Loco-Motion.”
Tickets for all four nights are already on sale. Each night has different pricing. The grandstand is free for Hairball; reserved tickets will be required for all other shows.
To learn more about the fair acts, and purchase tickets, visit nwsfa.com