Shenandoah County Fair kicks off today

Donald Devans, 56, a ride operator for Penwood and D & K Shows of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, assembles the Zipper ride at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock. The fair rides open this evening. Rich Cooley/Daily

Nine days of fair fun and food await those attending the 98th annual Shenandoah County Fair starting today, and fair manager Tom Eshelman said that attendees will be able to enjoy some new musical performances and even get their own stint in the spotlight this year.

The concerts at last year’s fair were a huge hit, and Eshelman said tickets for this year’s acts are selling fast.

Four artists will perform at the fair for the first time on back-to-back nights from Wednesday through Sept. 5. Both track and grandstand seating tickets are available for Cole Swindell on Wednesday, Nothin’ Fancy on Thursday (the Clint Black show has been canceled), Eagles tribute group Hotel California on Friday and David Allan Coe on Sept. 5. For those concerts, the beer garden will extend to the whole track, as opposed to a small section as it’s been in previous years.

The WSIG Country Showdown talent competition will choose three winners from fair entrants on Monday. Those finalists will go up against winners from fairs in Augusta, Rockingham and Page counties on Sept. 5 at the Virginia Dreams Free Music Stage for a chance to move on to compete at the state fair.

Other musical performances on the stage will include High Ground, Long Hard Road Band, Many Nights Ahead, Thrashen Hollar Band and Cash Express.

Family Fun Day on Saturday will mean a wide variety of games and contests for kids of all ages, as well as the kickoff ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:30 a.m. On that day, adults will be admitted for $4 and children 12 and younger will be admitted free.

Free admission for children will also be offered on Tuesday, seniors age 65 and older will have $3 admission before 4 p.m. Wednesday and veterans will get free admission until 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Miss Shenandoah County Fair Pageant took place at Central High School last Saturday prior to the fair.

Shenandoah County 4-H extension agent Carol Nansel said she’s expecting around 127 exhibitors at the 4-H and FFA showmanship contests throughout the week. Competitors will bring out their animals at shows from Monday through Thursday and set up to sell their livestock on Sept 5.

Harness racing – a big fair hit, according to Eshelman – will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday-Sept 5.

Free and ticketed shows and events will fill the grandstand with music and applause every night of the fair. The Robbie Limon Band will play a free show  Friday evening, and a free Bluegrass Bash featuring Bluegrass Brothers will begin at 6 p.m. Sunday.

The grandstand will host a modified truck and tractor pull on Saturday for $12 admission and demolition derbies on Monday and Tuesday for a $14 admission. Attendees can see the free county tractor pull at the grandstand on Saturday, and the lawn and garden tractor pulls for youth and adults on Sunday will also have free admission.

Eshelman said that because the fair will be producing the demolition derbies this year, the cash purse for the derby winners has increased to $2,800 per night.

“We’re hoping that will draw out more guys who want to help out and be a part of it,” he said.

Fair admission is $6 for adults 13 and older, $2 for children ages 6 through 12 and children 5 and younger will be admitted for free. Attendees can also purchase a courtesy pass for the whole fair for $42 and a weekly pass that will gain them general and grandstand admission for $139.

Even with the new plans for this year, fair directors are looking ahead at a milestone for the event. Eshelman said there are already some preparations for the 100th fair in 2017 taking shape.

“We’ve got some exciting plans further down the road,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting to them financially.”

For more information about fair programming, visit http://www.shencofair.com.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com