MORE

Are You Ready for the Country: County fairs, cowboy boots and Sparks

Are You Ready for the Country: County fairs, cowboy boots and Sparks

Today I head back from three nights of country music at my hometown's county fair.

Ugh.

It was a rough three nights.

Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton
Courtesy of blakeshelton.com

A beer garden stocked with cheap Miller Lites, Mike's Hard Lemonades and, ugh again, Sparks on ice (my sister and I both sported orange-staches the night Luke Bryan and Heidi Newfield performed before realizing we ought to smuggle our own liquor for Blake Shelton, Gloriana and Rodney Atkins).

See? Learned my Sparks lesson - brought a jug of homemade Mimosa and flask of whiskey for Blake Shelton.
See? Learned my Sparks lesson - brought a jug of homemade Mimosa and flask of whiskey for Blake Shelton.
Picture by Nikki's sister

Long lines for the ladies' room full of drunk women, the likes of which say things like, "I love your hat. I love your boots. I love your eyes OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE I JUST SAID THAT I SWEAR I'M NOT GAY OH MY GOD I'M SO DRUNK FORGET I SAID THAT. No, but really, I'm not gay."

Singing Dolly Parton to a disinterested crowd of seeming "regulars" in an 1880s-style "Centennial Village" (regulars? The place is only open once a year for the fair. But they eyed us with the distrust of an old-time village of regulars) while throwing back still more Miller Lites.

And Luke Bryan briefly covering Collective Soul. Really, Luke? Really, my number one country music crush, now dropped way down to, like, ten (replacing him near the top - one of the guitar players in Gloriana. Not the one with the bleach-blonde spiky hair; the other one in the backseat - va va va voom you hottie in slicked-back hair and cowboy boots).

I scored a backstage pass from a friend who works in country radio, got my photo snapped with Luke who briefly touched my back and referred to me as "Baby" (swoon!) but, really Luke? Collective Soul, and "Enter Sandman"?

Ugh.

Luke Bryan, touching my back. Be still, heart.
Luke Bryan, touching my back. Be still, heart.
Photo by some dude outside Luke's trailer

No more swigging whiskey from plastic flasks amidst a field of boots while my siblings and I count down to drunkenly scream in unison "MIRANNNNNDA LAMMMMBERT!" and "HUNTIN' BIG WHITETAIL!" at Blake Shelton (note, Blake Shelton dates Miranda, and, well, he hunts big whitetails). Time for Blake and I to move on to greener pastures--county fair time is over, state fair time is now. For those of us in Minnesota, that now is today.

Are You Ready for the Country: County fairs, cowboy boots and Sparks
Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

 

Both state and county fairs are, of course, excellent venues in which to catch country music (up-and-comers at the county, big-time--and also '70s and '80s dinosaur rock--at the state). Here's what you can plan to see at the Minnesota State Fair over the next week.

On Friday, Jason Aldean headlines the Grandstand with openers Eli Young Band. Aldean will always have a spot in my heart if only because my sister chose to loop his hit "Big Green Tractor" over the PA while guests filed into their seats for her outdoor wedding. I mean, ain't that precious? Well, that, and it's a good tune, as is the other hit off his most recent album, "She's Country."

Kid Rock headlines Saturday with openers Lynyrd Skynyrd. Show of hands for original Skynyrd members present at the show... aaand I'd reckon we'd see about two hands there. Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, Kid Rock has gone country. F'real this time. Look'a them boots.

Are You Ready for the Country: County fairs, cowboy boots and Sparks
Courtesy of myspace.com/kidrock

I'm particularly excited to see Randy Travis headline Tuesday night, with opener Joe Nichols. Randy Travis you've likely heard of, as his career has now spanned nearly 25 years, over a dozen albums and more than thirty top singles since his first album, Storms of Life, featured a handful of cheatin' songs and was named Billboard's Top Country Album of 1987. Joe Nichols is yet another in a long line of good-lookin' country music singers, perhaps best known for his charming little ditty "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off."

I'll also note that the free stages feature several great country acts, including Joey+Rory as well as Minnesota's own White Iron Band, Charlie Parr, the Roe Family Singers, Pert' Near Sandstone and the Front Porch Swingin' Liquor Pigs. Plus, admission to all horse shows (August 26-September 7) and the High School Rodeo (September 2-4) is now included in gate admission in case you have a pair of shit-kickers you'd like to break in with a little mud 'n manure. No one can call you a poseur walking around Uptown in those second-hand boots you picked up at Tatters after they take a whiff of your feet, dammit!

Are You Ready for the Country: County fairs, cowboy boots and Sparks
Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

 

Don't want to deal with the parking, crowds and gate admissions but still want to hear some good music? Unfamiliar with (or rather, as many of my friends say, "not into" or "absolutely despise the awful tripe that is") contemporary Top 40 country music?

Are You Ready for the Country: County fairs, cowboy boots and Sparks
Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

Don't be a cow's ass. Tune in to ABC on Monday July 23 at 7CST for a two-hour special broadcasting the Country Music Association's June festival held in downtown Nashville to see if your distaste is founded. Hosted by country sweethearts Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift, the four-day concert featured performances by Pickler and Swift as well as countless other acts currently dominating country radio: The Zac Brown Band, Miranda Lambert, Sugarland, Jake Owen, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Rodney Atkins, Alan Jackson, Rascall Flatts. Damn!

By the way, I don't promise you'll become a Top 40 convert so don't be askin' to throw down on this one--not gonna bet you a whiskey that after seeing him perform on ABC, you're going to think Jake Owen is the best thing this side of Alabama.

Are You Ready for the Country: County fairs, cowboy boots and Sparks

What I will bet you is that Nashville's finally gotten wise and dropped the whole Confederate flag shtick. Seeing as how Darius Rucker is also featured in the special, I'm gonna hope that's the case, anyway.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >