Behind the scenes there are volunteers with titles that make them
sound like professionals. But what has actually turned those
volunteers into professionals is practice, practice, practice --
doing the same task year after year, perfecting their area of
activity until it becomes an area of expertise.
else at the county fair, the entertainment doesn't just happen. And
the person who has perfected that area of activity is David Irwin.
He is vice president and farm manager at the State Bank of Lincoln.
As a member of the Logan County Fair board, Irwin is involved
with planning and maintaining the annual event. Three years ago, he
unknowingly created an area of activity for himself when he
introduced the idea of having a country band or artist as grandstand
entertainment. Several times he had been asked by local residents if
the board might consider including a country act, as it had been
years since such a show had been part of the agenda.
The board gave Irwin approval to pursue the idea. A Thursday
morning meeting was called to discuss the possibilities, and Irwin
was given the task of finding funding for the show. He made phone
calls and visited businesses with a plan to offer sponsorships that
would support a country music program at the county fair. By Monday
morning, he had collected $10,000. It was enough to begin the
"It gets easier every year," Irwin said about the process that
leads to the night of a show. "But it isn't as easy as most people
think it is. There are a lot of things to consider, and money, of
course, is an important factor. If it weren't for our sponsors,
there wouldn't be a major band or artist at the grandstand. The
Logan County Fair Association can't say enough to express its
appreciation to the people and businesses who willingly support the
fair and who sometimes offer before we can ask."
In October, the promoter calls with a list of entertainers and
their fees. (Irwin has worked with the same promoter for three
years.) Irwin chooses a handful of bands, bounces a few names off
people whose opinions he trusts, and shares his choices with the
board for their approval. Then he contacts the promoter for band or
Irwin had beginner's luck in 2009 when Keith Anderson -- his
first pick -- was available on the right date. Last year, Irwin
struck out until matching the date with his eighth choice, Tracy
Lawrence. This year, Lonestar was third on the list.
"It starts out as a verbal agreement with the promoter, and then
if the artist and their people approve, we sign a contract," Irwin
explained. Even though dates match and everyone else is onboard, an
artist can refuse an offer, for whatever reason.
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"Routes are the main determining factor, because no matter how
bad we want them, and no matter how much money we can pay, if they
aren't coming this direction, they're not going to zigzag across the
country to play at this county fair," Irwin said.
Some artists are still in their prime and absolutely do not play
county fairs, or they can still command a large fee, which a small
community cannot afford. Irwin said Toby Keith and Kenny Chesney
come with million-dollar price tags. Nashville artists have already
set prices for 2012.
Even before considering the artist's fee, Irwin will spend $8,200
for lighting, sound and insurance. Lonestar's contract does not
require anything out of the ordinary, but it lists several brands of
soda, the number of cans, snack brands and examples of the types of
sandwiches and meals the manager may ask for. There are to be 15
volunteers to help with stage setup. A lengthy list of beers and
other libations has been marked off the standard form. The contract
specifically notes there are to be no alcoholic beverages. And there
are to be a specific number of colored hand towels on stage for use
during the performance.
The contract also requires that a 15-passenger van with a driver
be at the band's disposal the entire time it is in town. If their
manager or a band member wants to go to Ace Hardware or shop
downtown or go for a drive through the country, the van must be
available to make the trip.
"This band was really big from the early '90s through early 2000,
and there has already been some really positive feedback about the
decision to have them this year," Irwin said. "It should be a good
show. And people need to remember the sponsors who made it
Lonestar will perform on Friday, Aug. 5, with Still Kickin' opening
the show at 7 p.m.
Sponsors for the grandstand show at the Logan County Fair are
State Bank of Lincoln, Logan County Bank, Midwest Technical
Institute, Lincoln Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Graue Inc., Jim Xamis Ford,
the John Olson Family, the Rick Freed Family, Hartsburg Grain Co.,
Cross Implement, Central Illinois Ag, Lincoln Ag Center and Rohlfs
[By MARLA BLAIR]