Douglas County Fairgrounds Director Harold Phillips today named the top acts for this summer’s fair, but that wasn’t his headline announcement.
The August fair will run four days, rather than the customary five, as a way to cut expenses.
“It was a business decision. All of the elements will still be there. It will just be staged over a shorter number of days,” Phillips said.
Rather than open on Tuesday morning, the fair will begin Wednesday, Aug. 7, and run through Saturday, Aug. 10.
The one-day reduction will save money, but Phillips said he expected total attendance and revenues to remain about the same.
British rock band Whitesnake, which gained fame in the United States with the 1980s hits “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love,” will be one of four headline acts that will perform at the fair.
Country singer Dwight Yoakam, Mississippi rock band 3 Doors Down and country singer Clay Walker, a repeat performer from 2001, round out the entertainers picked to sing at the PremierWest Amphitheater.
“Every artist has proven himself, not only nationally but internationally. I think they all will do well,” Phillip said.
In recent years, Lane and Deschutes counties have cut their fairs by one day. Washington County in the Portland metropolitan area cut two days from its fair schedule.
“It was a good move for us. We didn’t miss a beat,” said Dan Despotopulos, director of the Deschutes County Fair.
When Deschutes County went from six days to five about a decade ago, there were concerns over whether attendance and food and merchandise sales would suffer, Despotopulos said. It turned out attendance remained steady and fairgoers spent just as much as before, he said.
“If you get the same number of people, you’re selling the same amount of food and drinks,” he said.
Teresa Middleton, coordinator of Douglas County’s 4-H program, said she believes the move to a four-day fair will be positive.
Phillips broached the idea to Middleton and other youth leaders several months ago, and they felt the change would work without disrupting children’s participation in the fair. Showing of animals and other projects will take place over a more condensed period of time, but Middleton said she believes it will work out fine.
Other beneficiaries will be the cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, rabbits and other creatures that live at the fair. It’s stressful to be in confined quarters in what are often hot conditions, she said.
“It will be easier on the animals. It’s one less day they’re at the fair,” Middleton said.
On the music front, the schedule will be Yoakum, Aug. 7; Walker, Aug. 8; 3 Doors Down, Aug. 9, and Whitesnake, Aug. 10.
Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale founded the band in 1978. He also performed with former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page in Coverdale/Page in the 1990s.
Guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach and drummer Tommy Aldridge joined Whitesnake in 2002. Aldrich formerly performed with Ronny Dio, while Beach came from Winger. Bass player Michael Devin joined the band in 2010, followed by keyboardist Brian Ruedy a year later.
Two years ago, Whitesnake released its “Forevermore” album, its 16th album of original work. It has also released 10 album compilations. “Forevermore” reached 49th on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart, the band’s best showing since the 1980s.
Yoakam, who scored No. 1 hits with the singles “Streets of Bakersfield” and “I Sang Dixie,”grew up in Pikeville, Ky., and moved to Nashville in 1977.
At the time, Nashville was centered on urban cowboy music and Yoakam’s honky-tonk style was rejected. He moved to Los Angeles and paid to record his first album, “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc.” That led to a contract with Reprise Records, which added some extra tracks and rereleased the album as “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.” Two songs off that album, “Honky Tonk Man,” a cover of a Johnny Horton song, and “Guitars, Cadillacs,” became hits.
The video for “Honky Tonk Man” became the first country song ever played on MTV. And Johnny Cash once described Yoakam as his favorite country singer.
Yoakam has also recorded many songs from other genres, including Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds,” the Clash’s “Train in Vain,” the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’” and Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.”
Yoakam has also acted in films, appearing in “Sling Blade,” “Panic Room,” and “Dirty Girl,” among others.
Yoakam won a Grammy Award for best male country vocal performance for “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” in 1993.
3 Doors Down shot to fame in 2000 with its hit single “Kryptonite,” which rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Top 100. The band’s debut album, “The Better Life,” was the 11th best selling album of the year.
The band’s second album, “Away From the Sun,” debuted at No. 8 and sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. It featured the hits “When I’m Gone” and “Here Without You.” 3 Doors Down’s 2005 album “Seventeen Days” and its 2008 self-titled album both debuted at No. 1. “Landing in London” and “It’s Not My Time” came from those albums.
Walker made his debut in 1993 with the single “What’s It to You,” which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart. That was followed up by “Live Until I Die,” which also reached No. 1, in 1994.
Walker has recorded 11 albums. Overall, 30 of his songs have placed on the country charts, with six reaching No. 1. The other singles that reached the top spot are “Dreaming with My Eyes Open,” “If I Could Make a Living,” “This Woman and This Man” and “Rumor Has It.”
Walker drew 10,000 fans during his 2001 appearance at the Douglas County Fair. He sang for nearly two hours and finished with a six-song encore.
Attendance at Douglas County Fair concerts is free with paid admission. Reserved seats are also available for $25, or $30 for a reserved ticket and a fair admission ticket.
Reserves seats will go on sale at 8 a.m. on March 16 at the fair office at 2110 S.W. Frear St. and at noon on the fair website at douglasfairgrounds.com.
• You can reach reporter John Sowell at 541-957-4209 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.