By Sam Jack
When organizers sat down to plan the free musical entertainment at this year’s Sedgwick County Fair, July 18-21 in Cheney, they quickly settled on what they wanted: great local acts.
“We really did a lot of homework and research about acts that we could bring that have a very definable local following,” said Marti Johnson, the Fair’s communications chairperson. “Within that, we cover a whole huge range of different music styles.”
On Thursday, the Open Air Stage hosts the opening round of Fair’s Got Talent, 7 p.m. For the last several years, the talent show has been a great way to encounter young and aspiring performers.
Following Fair’s Got Talent on Thursday, the Molly Neeley Trio makes its Fair debut at 8:30 p.m. Neeley, a Wichita native, formed her trio three years ago and has since gotten more serious about performing. The trio also includes Ashley Reichenborn, a Goddard High School graduate who performs either on a West African djembe or a box-shaped percussion instrument that originated in Peru.
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Friday is country night at the Fair. The opening act is the Jason Boyd Band, 7 p.m. on the Open Air Stage. Boyd fits the Red Dirt Country genre, mixing classic country with Texas blues, southern rock and his own style, developed playing as a youth in his father’s bands.
Following Boyd to the stage will be the Adam Capps Band. Capps, a former Eisenhower Middle School teacher, has spent the last three years as a full-time, professional musician, and he and his band keep up a grueling schedule of performances across the central U.S.
“I don’t do repeats very often, but we thoroughly enjoy playing out there (at the Fair),” Capps said. “The Fair is pretty much the only one we do year after year.”
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the top acts from the first round will be invited back for the Fair’s Got Talent finals, with prizes and bragging rights at stake.
After that, at 9 p.m., is the Fair’s finale concert: longtime local favorite Big Fat Fun. This is the band’s 20th anniversary year, and the Fair is one of only a handful of shows frontman Jason Shire has scheduled.
“We play all styles: rock, soul, funk, hip-hop, country, hair metal,” Shire said. “If it’s a fun song that people know and love, we play it.”
For more on the free concerts, along with info on all the Fair’s other attractions, visit www.ourcountyfair.com, or refer to the Sedgwick County Fair Guide, in print or online at www.tsnews.com.