By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
It was uncharacteristic of the Great Jones County Fair to make a concert announcement on stage a year in advance, but it proved to build momentum for the 2013 Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest.
Prior to Dustin Lynch taking the stage for the Keith Urban concert on Saturday night, July 23, it was announced that country music sweetheart Miranda Lambert would be appearing at the fair for a third time.
“This brings a different piece of excitement to the mix,” explained GJCF Manager John Harms. “We’ve actually tried to announce acts like this before but we weren’t able to get the entertainer’s permission.”
Lambert, with special guest Tyler Farr, will perform on stage on Thursday, July 17, at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale online on Black Friday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m. Visit
After last year’s country music superstars Keith Urban, Little Big Town and Gary Allan, people may have thought, “There’s no way they can top this!” Well think again…
Miranda Lambert has made a name for herself in country music. It also helps that she’s married to another country hit-maker, Blake Shelton.
Lambert released her fourth album “Four the Record” in 2011. Each album she’s produced contains hit after hit.
She’s received award after award from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. Her second album, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” won Album of the Year at the ACMs in 2008. In 2010, her third album “Revolution” won Album of the Year and Lambert received an award for Top Female Vocalist both at the ACMs. That same year, the CMAs awarded her Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year. Lambert kept the momentum going in 2011, 2012 and 2013, earning numerous awards and Grammys.
In securing Tyler Farr, Harms said he worked with Lambert’s booking agency.
“He’s performing with her on a lot of her touring dates,” he said. The same marketing agency books both Lambert and Farr. Harms said Lambert actually recommended his name for the GJCF.
“He cost us a little more in our supporting act budget, but he’ll be great,” Harms offered.
Farr is known for such recent hits as “Redneck Crazy” and “Hello Goodbye.”
Lambert first came to the fair in 2005 and opened for Rascal Flatts. Harms said she performed maybe 20 minutes at the time. Then in 2008, she returned to co-headline with Dierks Bentley. Unfortunately, a nasty summer storm blew through town that night, forcing Lambert to cut her act short. Bentley’s act was postponed as people took shelter from the storm. In 2012, Lambert was back at the GJCF, but went unnoticed by many as her husband Blake Shelton performed on stage. 2014 will be her fourth time at the fair, this time as a headlining act.
“Performing artists like it here,” Harms said of the fair’s giant, permanent stage. Entertainers can throw a full production with the room available on stage. “They have a good time while they’re here,” he added.
Track tickets (SRO-standing room only) for Lambert and Farr will be $50. Amphitheater and hillside seating tickets will be $40. As always, the GJCF does not disappoint with plenty of free hillside room, offering great views of the stage and video screens.
Harms said each year, these musical acts get more and more expensive. In wanting to provide the public with top-notch entertainment, someone has to pay.
“We can’t pay them if we don’t raise the price of the ticket,” he explained. However, he said there is a fine line between what the fair is willing to charge and what the public is willing to pay. “That’s something we haven’t figured out yet,” Harms said. “At what point will people not pay for a ticket? We don’t know where that balance is.”
For this year’s fair entertainment nights, Harms estimated that they could sell about 11,500 tickets. That number doubles once you factor in free hillside seating.
“We started out with 4,000 on the track and have been increasing that each year by 500,” he said of the track numbers.
With Jones County still rated the third largest fair attendance-wise, Harms said Davenport is second and the Clay County Fair tops the list.
“We’re also the shortest of the three fairs,” Harms said. The GJCF is the five best days of summer, while the other two run longer.
But, the GJCF ranks number one when it comes to bringing in the most revenue in just five days.
“We bring in the most revenue per capita,” said Harms. He estimated seeing around $3 million in five days. “We spend more on entertainment, though,” Harms added.
Those other fairs also have full-time staff running their offices. Jones County has seasonal fair staff.
Putting more money into the fair’s infrastructure like the stage and new Youth Development Center, Harms said it helps that the GJCF is surrounded by good, hardworking people and attractive grounds.
“Acts come here and just appreciate performing in rural Jones County. It’s a fun venue to be at.”
In announcing the acts throughout the year, something the fair has been doing for several years now, Harms said it keeps the momentum going all year long, rather than just a few weeks prior to the fair.
“We can keep our brand going 12 months out of the year versus just a few months,” he said.
Be sure to go online on Nov. 29 at 10 a.m. for tickets for Miranda Lambert and Tyler Farr. Stay tuned for more announcements from the GJCF!