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Chippewa County Fair featuring two big bands in one night

Hairball. (SUBMITTED)

MONTEVIDEO — One good act deserves another, and they’re available for the price of one at the Chippewa County Fair on July 28.

The revived county fair is bringing back the popular arena rock band Hairball to headline this year’s fair, but also offering a dual concert featuring the Badlands House Band as part of the same Thursday-night event. Organizers are expecting as many as 3,000 people for the back-to-back concerts on the fairgrounds in Montevideo. “I really think it’s going to be a big show,’’ said fair board member Jason Dehne.

The Chippewa County Fair brought Hairball to its stage in 2014, the year that the fair began an ambitious effort to bring big name entertainment and a wider mix of activities to attract larger crowds.

Hairball is a sure bet to attract a crowd, and Dehne believes that the Badlands House Band, known as the cowboys of rock ‘n roll, are sure to prove as big a draw. “These guys are top notch musicians,’’ said Dehne.

The fair has been seeing larger crowds — over 14,000 are estimated to have come through the gates last year — as it joins the ranks of county fairs finding ways to bring back the big crowds of earlier years.

Statewide, attendance at county fairs seemed to be going downhill until about four or five years ago, according to Steve Storck, a member of the Minnesota Federation of County Fairs from Stevens County. The trend reversed itself after the state Legislature made grant funds available to fairs looking to bolster what they offered, and new blood joined the ranks of many fair boards.

Interest in county fairs is once again on the grow, said Storck.

The driving force behind the renewed growth is no different than years ago. Storck said it’s all about finding volunteers and enlisting community support to make it happen.

Dehne said the Chippewa County fair board has added members and meets regularly through the year to line up the acts and activities it takes to draw a crowd. It’s also held on to its best: Johnny Holms is returning, as is the carnival and popular events such as the dock dogs competition, stock car racing and demo derby that have proven so popular.

Dehne said it is also increasingly important for county fairs to mix things up year-to-year to bring new people to the gate. This year’s new attractions include a large exotic petting zoo with everything from kangaroos and wallabees to parrots; bingo games, as well as new bands including IV Play and Tripwire.

The fair has also benefited by a renewed effort to bring quality food vendors to the grounds, and of course, promotion. Dehne said the fair is promoting its offerings through a mix of social and traditional media, including the release of a video promoting the big Thursday night offering of Hairball and Badlands House Band.

“We do it old school, modern, and every mix in between,’’ said Dehne of the fair’s approach.

Tickets for the July 28 show went on sale June 1 at Schwieter’s Motors in Montevideo.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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