CHIPPEWA FALLS — When Joan Jett & the Blackhearts performed at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair in 2003, a massive crowd showed up to hear the singer belt out her hits, including “I Love Rock n’ Roll” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”
“The reports I’ve had is it was one of the largest crowds we’ve ever had at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair,” said fair director Rusty Volk, who began his position in 2008.
Volk started working on signing Jett last fall, and his persistence paid off. On Friday, he was able to officially announce that the band will headline the grandstand on Saturday, July 13.
“It’s awesome,” Volk said. “It’s wonderful to be able to announce Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (are coming.) It’s a great way to finish off a week where you’ll be able to sing along with almost all the songs they’ll be performing.”
Like the Big & Rich show on Friday, July 12, the grandstand will have reserved seating. Everyone will need a ticket to enter the grandstand or infield to see those shows; the grandstand will remain free and general admission for the shows on Wednesday and Thursday.
Tickets for all four headline shows are now on sale on the fairgrounds’ website. Volk said the side stages are nearly all booked as well for the July event.
Big & Rich, best known for their 2004 hit, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” will make their debut at the fair, but the duo were a headliner at Country Jam in the town of Union in 2008, and the duo played at Country Fest in rural Cadott in 2006, 2007, and 2012.
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 and country singer Martina McBride last year.
Big & Rich – Big Kenny and John Rich – won the 2004 Billboard Music Award for best new country duo or group, artist of the year. They were nominated for Grammy Awards for their hits “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” “Comin’ To Your City” and “8th of November.”
The fair will kick off Wednesday, July 10, with a trio of well-known country singers. Collin Raye, Sammy Kershaw and Aaron Tippin are performing on the “Roots & Boots 90s Electric Throwdown” tour. Volk said the trio will be on stage together throughout the show, singing together while also each performing their major solo hits. The trio played at last year’s Country Jam as well. While this show was previously announced, tickets didn’t initially go on sale, but they are now available for purchase, Volk said.
The headliner on Thursday, July 11, will be Hairball, which is a “bombastic celebration of arena rock.”
The Sunday grandstand show will be a sheep-riding event. Nebraska-based McCane’s Mutton-Busting will be at the fair with a variety of sheep for kids to ride, with the challenge to stay on for the longest time.
“The kids have to be 60 pounds or less,” Volk said. “It’s for the first 100 who sign up.”
Volk said that the fair will donate $1 for each grandstand ticket sold for the shows Friday and Saturday to the Community Foundation of Chippewa County’s fund for the Girl Scout troop #3055. Also, Northwestern Bank will donate $5 for each grandstand ticket sold those two days, up to $25,000.
Tickets for the fair will be $10 for adults, $5 for youth ages 6-11, with children ages five and younger are free. A fair armband, good for all five days, will be $20. To learn more about the fair acts, and purchase tickets, visit nwsfa.com