PHOTO: Country music superstar Keith Urban wowed the crowd on Saturday night, July 20, at the Great Jones County Fair. The night was one to remember. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
PHOTO: The band Little Big Town performed prior to Keith Urban on July 20. Some of their big hits of the night were “Pontoon,” “Tornado” and “Boondocks.” Band members are, from left, Jimi Westbrook, Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild and Philip Sweet. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
PHOTO: Sheryl Crow performed at the fair Thursday night, July 18, debuting some of her new country music singles. Crow also performed many of her hits from years past. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
If you were one of the few that did not attend the Great Jones County Fair on Saturday night, July 20, then you missed out.
Country music great Keith Urban, with special guests Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch hit the stage during the first leg of their Light the Fuse Tour. This was an epic night! Tickets sold out immediately on Black Friday last year for this concert, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from taking advantage of the free hillside, packing the fairgrounds for what was a memorable concert in deed!
“Based on gate revenue, it spears Saturday night was a record-breaker,” said Fair Manager John Harms. “The fair was extremely successful!”
Once Urban came out to a roaring crowd, his guitar solos and rock-and-roll status only fueled concert-goers even more. As if one stage wasn’t enough, he walked into the crowd on several different occasions, performing on top of makeshift stages. Those sitting in the amphitheater and hillside were delighted to see the performer up close. He even handed his guitar to one lucky person in the crowd, 2011 GJCF Queen Tara Manternach!
In a phone interview, Manternach explained she was standing on the track towards the back right-hand side when Urban started performing.
“Everyone crowded around him and started singing along,” she recalled. “We all had our hands in the air, screaming.”
Manternach said Urban took his guitar off his shoulder and autographed it to give to a fan.
“He just grabbed my hand,” she said. “There was security all around to make sure I got the guitar.”
She said it was such a surreal, exciting moment, she didn’t know what to think.
“You don’t plan for something like this to happen. It was just awesome!”
Manternach said having been fair queen and a resident of Jones County, it’s nice to have a piece of memorabilia like this.
After Urban came back out on the stage for an encore performance, he told the crowd he didn’t plan to exit anytime soon.
Those in attendance that night had nothing but praise for the performances of all three acts. Many took to Facebook and thanked the GJCF for an amazing night of music. Keith Urban even took to Twitter saying, “Monticello… you were one helluva crazy party tonite! Thank you for capping the first weekend of the #LightTheFuseTour!!! -KU.”
Harms said to pull off such a major production, the artists’ manager requested to have full use of the track by 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon. This meant stock car races ended earlier than anticipated.
“This show had all of the production and makings of a large arena show,” Harms said. Jones County was the third stop on The Light the Fuse Tour, and they were pulling out all the stops to make it a memorable one. Harms said this was a rare occasion where Urban’s production team was able to use all of their equipment from the stage to the smaller stages set up inside the track.
“They had never done this full set-up before, so they needed time to pull it off,” Harms said of the time constraints. “Some don’t understand the time it took. But it made all the difference on the value of the concert experience.”
This was definitely the highlight of this year’s Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest. A week of great music, races, amusement rides, 4-H and FFA shows and so much more was capped off with great weather as well. The heat at the start of fair week didn’t hinder people from coming out for the enjoyment.
Every event went off without a hitch, including the motocross, truck and tractor pull, harness races, stock car races and the demolition derby on Sunday afternoon.
Entertainers this year included: Gary Allan, Sheryl Crow, Tesla, Motley Crue, Dustin Lynch, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Capital Kings, Jamie Grace and Toby Mac, featuring Monticello’s own Tim Rosenau.
“It was a nice crowd Sunday night,” said Harms. He said they probably sold about 5,000 tickets in all. In order to make the sound of the cheering crowd more unified for the entertainers, the fair offered the north and south hillside bleachers for free.
“We wanted seats filled,” said Harms.
Each night of music, fans came from near and far to see their favorites perform right here at the GJCF.
“From an emotional standpoint,” Harms said, “this fair was extremely well received. People said this was the best they’ve ever seen.”
If you didn’t hear, on Saturday night, country music radio station KHAK 98.1 came out on stage prior to Dustin Lynch to make an announcement regarding the 2014 GJCF. After being treated to the entertainment stylings of Blake Shelton last year at the 160th GJCF, Shelton’s wife, Miranda Lambert will be appearing here on Thursday, July 17, 2014! The fair has announced that tickets to her show will go on sale on Black Friday this year, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m. Tickets will go on sale online only. More information will be released as the date nears.
Harms said this was a rare occasion where they were able to announce an act for the next year so soon.
“It’s a little piece of something different,” he said.
To cap off a wonderful week of fair fun, the GJCF took to Facebook to say, “Kudos to all who helped in any way to make the 161st Great Jones County Fair a success. We take a break and then we will be working on the 162nd fair next year. Hope to see you again.”
As this year’s fair motto goes, things can only go “upward and onward” from here!
“I have the same attitude,” Harms said. “We want to give people the opportunity to experience what we’ve worked so hard to do.”
Harms said the success of the fair is the work of so many people.
“We have so many good people who work to make it a special experience for everybody. Hats off to those people who are part of this fair.”
The 2014 GJCF will take place July 16-20. Visit
Note: Due to the band’s request, the Express was unable to obtain photos of Motley Crue’s performance on Friday, July 19.
PHOTO: Monticello native Tim Rosenau (left) enjoys a moment on stage with TobyMac during the TobyMac concert Sunday, July 21 at the Great Jones County Fair. (Photo by Pete Temple)