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Fair headliners revealed
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Fair headliners revealed

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The headlining entertainers for the 2016 Gage County Fair are confirmed.

Granger Smith featuring Earl Dibbles Jr. will perform Wednesday, July 27, and Aaron Watson will perform Thursday, July 28.

Smith performed at the fair in 2014 and Watson was requested by area students.

“He (Smith) was so successful two years ago for us,” said Lisa Wiegand, entertainment chairwoman of the fair. “Most people wait until the end of his performance when he comes out as Earl Dibbles Jr.”

Independent country musician Granger Smith has released nine albums, sold out national tours and boasts millions of social media followers. Earl Dibbles Jr. is Smith’s alter ego who is a “polar opposite image of the singer” and well-received by fans.

Wiegand remarked on Smith’s ability and dedication to connect with fans through social media.

“He’ll be in constant contact starting two months out … sending out tweets such as, ‘Hey, I’m in Nebraska,’” Wiegand said.

Smith’s YouTube docu-series, Yee Yee TV,” gives fans an inside look at life on the road with his band and crew. He also has a weekly television segment, “Dip ‘Em and Pick ‘Em” on “Inside College Football” on CBS Sports Network.

A press release from the Gage County Fair Board said Smith’s 10 years’-worth of music is self-written, self-recorded, self-produced and independently released.

Wiegand had just as many good comments about Watson.

“Aaron Watson – I’ve heard nothing but good rapport,” Wiegand said. “He’s a young singer-songwriter with that honky-tonk tradition and yet plays country music with a lot of fun and spunk and energy to it.”

Wiegand said he plays “red dirt” country music.

“In the last couple of years, we started bringing in the red dirt side of country music,” Wiegand said. “In a survey we sent out to students, which includes SCC students here – in their requests, they said they wanted to see Aaron Watson come to Gage County. He has a good following.”

Watson is also an independent artist who has reached the top of charts. His 12th record is “The Underdog.”

“I’ve always liked the idea of the underdog,” Watson is quoted in the press release. “I’ve always liked the idea that the guy who’s not supposed to win could still beat all the odds through hard work and perseverance.

“A lot of people are always telling us that what we’re achieving in the music business is just next to impossible. I don’t really consider it that way. We’re just out there working hard.”

Watson went on to say the idea of the underdog describes where he is in his career and what he and his band are trying to achieve with the album.

He said his face is painted like a rodeo clown on the album cover because “the rodeo clown is a huge underdog ... He’s up against a huge bull trying to protect these riders, putting his life on the line. Talk about an unsung hero.”

Watson said his songs are about the things he believes in – family, faith and fans.

Wiegand has worked with the fair since 1987, one year prior to its addition of entertainers.

“The biggest challenge is what people expect for their dollar value,” Wiegand said.

Wiegand said the fair’s entertainment committee works with an entertainment agency that has substantial experience in and knowledge of the country music industry. The group markets the annual entertainment largely to 18- to 34-year-olds, though plenty of families attend the fair as well, she said.

Tickets go on sale today (Wednesday) and can be purchased most easily on the fair’s website at gagecountyfair.com, or by calling the seasonal office at 402-223-3247. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Tickets are $25 each for the Granger Smith show and $15 each for the Aaron Watson show, or $35 total by purchasing a “passport” through the fair.

Car races and contests will be held on the racetrack on Friday through Sunday of the fair, with tickets ranging from $5 to $15 for children and adults. Seating is limited for those events.

“We hope that people will see something appealing in our entertainment lineup, but even if they don’t, we encourage people to come to the fair,” Wiegand said. “There are lots of things to see at the fair without having to spend a lot of dollars.”

The theme of the fair this year is “Let the Good Times Grow!”

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