Monday, July 29, 2002

State fair expands music range

Artists appeal to variety of tastes

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS - The Ohio State Fair is toning down the twang - just slightly. A push to get a more diverse lineup of big-name concerts is proving musical entertainment at the fair isn't just for country fans anymore.

  • When: The 149th Ohio State Fair opens Friday and runs through Aug. 19 at the state fairgrounds in Columbus:
  • Cost: Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for children 5 to 12 and seniors over 60. Children under 5 admitted free.
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m, except Aug. 18, when gates close at 8 p.m. Some exhibits and the midway have slightly different hours.
  • Parking: $5 per vehicle. Parking areas can be accessed from Interstate 71 at the 17th Avenue exit and the Hudson Street exit at Silver Drive. Handicapped parking is available.
  • Attendance: Last year's event attracted 950,419 visitors.
  • Concerts & events:
        “This whole year is about fixing some of the misconceptions,” said Christina Minier, Ohio State Fair spokeswoman. “A lot of people hear the word "fair' and assume that it's a lot of animals, tractor pulls, and dirt.”

        Entertainment director Brett Chance is hoping music fans will find the fair isn't only a place to get a cotton candy fix and ride the Tilt-o-Whirl, it's also a great place to see a show.

        This year's entertainment still features big-name country music acts - Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood and Willie Nelson - but there's also rock, soul, gospel, contemporary Christian, and rhythm & blues.

        Lifehouse, Ted Nugent, The Lovin' Spoonful, Jeffrey Osborne, Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir, Michael W. Smith, and Musiq Soulchild all are scheduled to perform during the fair, which opens Friday and runs through Aug. 19.

        “We work with radio a lot and ask them who they would like to see, who gets requested a lot, who's popular,” Mr. Chance said.

        That's how they decided on modern rock-pop outfit Lifehouse and R&B artist Musiq Soulchild, who will play free concerts.

        Bringing in big-name bands is critical because the fair must compete for revenue with other concert venues such as Polaris Amphitheater, Nationwide Arena and PromoWest Pavilion, Chance said. All three of those venues are bigger and have more amenities.

        “Back in the '70s and '80s when the fair was the big game in town, it was the vehicle to bring big names to Columbus,” he said. “It's not so much the case anymore, with all the arenas and venues.”

        State fairs around the country are casting a wider net for their concert talent and big-name entertainment in general.

        Something new at the Ohio State Fair this year is the Carousel of Communication, a one-day career advancement conference aimed at women that ends with a forum hosted by the stars of ABC's The View. The conference includes seminars on career development, networking, and diversity.

        Ms. Minier said the idea was to open the fair to a whole new demographic, namely working women and professionals.

        “The idea for Carousel is that they come in for this conference and see all the things we have. We know that if we can get people out here once, they'll come back.”

Abandoned subway could save light rail plan
Metro: Plan getting positive feedback
Professor's slaying has neighbors in shock
Ex-officer on trial for mall rape, kidnapping
Small towns making comeback on Main Street
- State fair expands music range
States tackle elusive spam
Newborn's death spurs 'haven' alert
Too-large elephant dies during birth
Local Digest
Showier Norwood police cruisers could replace fleet
You Asked For It
Good News: Church's $2,600 gets good returns
Lakota has vision for athletics
Award-winning volunteer has hugs for all
Carrollton bus crash spurs mother's candidacy
Rural, urban shootings different