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Tyler County Fair schedule promises top-notch entertainment

By Staff | Aug 1, 2012

The Tyler County Fair will celebrate five decades of family fun at the fairgrounds in Middlebourne next week.

The 50th annual event will officially open at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 6 with exhibits accepted until noon. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 5 p.m. that evening with the Silver Knights Marching Band providing entertainment.

Fair pageantry will begin at 7 p.m. with the Prince and Princess contest, followed by the Jr. Miss and Queen’s pageants.

Track events for opening day include ATV drag racing. Registration begins at 5 p.m., with racing at 7 p.m. There is no charge for grandstand admission. Pit admission is $10 per person.

Other Monday events include a baked goods sale at 6 p.m.


Tuesday is youth day at the fair, with kids admitted free until noon. Child-friendly events include youth bicycle races, games, and a pedal pull contest. The fun begins at 10 a.m.

Other events include a pet show is slated for 3 p.m., poultry and rabbit judging at 5:30 p.m., a purebred swine show at 6 p.m., and market hogs at 6:30 p.m.

Track events begin at 7 p.m., with mod lights, mini wedges and hot mods providing thrills at the speedway. Gates open at 5 p.m.

Musical entertainment for the evening will begin at 7 p.m. courtesy of the Texaco Country Showdown. Billed as America’s largest country music talent search, the competition is open vocal and/or instrumental performers, individuals, or groups of up to seven members who have not performed on a record listed in the national record charts of Billboard, Radio and Records, or The Gavin Report within 18 months preceding local competition.

There is a $20 entry fee per act and all contestants must begin their competition by performing at showdowns produced by participating country music radio stations. The Tyler County Fair event is sponsored by Power Country 104.


Wednesday is “ladies’ day”. Until noon, all ladies will be admitted free.

The day’s activities will begin at 9 a.m. in the Log Building with a quilt show. Other theme day activities will begin at 11 a.m. Other activities include Bingo from 2-7 p.m., beef and dairy judging at 3 p.m., a feeder calf show at 6 p.m., pie sale at 6:45 p.m., market steer show at 7 p.m. and karaoke at 8 p.m.

Musical entertainment is slated for 7:30 p.m., with the Al Spencer Band. Rising country music star James Wesley will perform on the mainstage at 9 p.m.

“I’ve always been a big believer in tradition,” declares Wesley. “A lot of the old ways are the best ways: family, God, treating people right, doing what you’re supposed to do. I think it’s time to come back to what’s real. That’s what country music is about.”

Wesley puts those core values into his music with a whiskey-smooth voice and a timelessly winning way with a great country song. Wesley sings directly to real people about real things that profoundly affect real lives-and from his small-town upbringing to his blue-collar work ethic, he has a deep understanding of what those folks are longing to hear.

“I know there’s more people out there than just me who want to hear something that grabs you and makes you go, ‘Wow, that’s me-that’s how I feel, that’s my day, that’s my family,'” he says. “When you swing a hammer every day, when you’re out there doing what you have to do, you learn a lot of compassion for the people that do it day in and day out.”

Wesley grew up in tiny Mound Valley, a community of about 200 people in Southeastern Kansas. He first discovered country music via his grandmother’s record collection, which included heaping helpings of classic crooners like Marty Robbins, George Jones and Ray Price. “We’d go over there on the weekends,” he recalls. “She’d have the console set up and the records stacked up and we’d listen to them as they dropped. Those guys back then, they could sing. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.'”

His mother was the first to notice Wesley’s own talent for singing when she overheard him belting out his favorite songs behind his bedroom door. “I thought if I shut my door I blocked everybody out, but evidently I didn’t block Mom out,” he says with a chuckle. “She heard me and said, ‘I’d love to have you sing in church.’ So that’s what I did.” Soon he taught himself to play guitar on an old Stella practice model. “I’ve got it to this day,” he says. “You can still see where I wore down the D, C and G chords on the fretboard.”

By his late teens he was singing in local nightclubs and beginning to think about making music his life. “I’d sit in my bedroom and stare out of the window and dream of being out there, getting to see the world,” he remembers. His first move in that direction was to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where he performed in a nightly music and variety show.

There he met his wife, Mindee, with whom he now has two young children-and finally set his sights on Nashville. “I could have stayed in Eureka Springs for the rest of my life, but I just had to chase the dream,” he says. “I had to follow my gut.”

He and Mindee sold their house and almost everything in it, rented a moving truck and headed for Music City. Once there, Wesley took a construction job to make ends meet and began learning the ropes of the Nashville music business. He met hit songwriter Rodney Clawson and producer Dan Frizsell, and the three began recording together. Their work caught the attention of Broken Bow Records, which signed Wesley in December and quickly released the very first song on his original demo, “Jackson Hole,” as his debut single. The tune (penned by Clawson and Monty Criswell) immediately began racing up the charts, driven by listeners who loved its vivid story of fleeting love in a snowy setting. “Jackson Hole” offered fans an upfront introduction to the more vulnerable aspects of Wesley’s personality. “Growing up with three sisters, I’ve got a sensitive side too,” he says with a smile. “But I’m proud that I have that side, that I’m not callous. The only thing calloused about me is my hands.”

The breakout success of “Jackson Hole” instantly validated the enormous risk Wesley took in uprooting his family from Eureka Springs for an uncertain future in Nashville was worth it. “My family has seen all the ups and downs,” he says. “There’s been a lot of hard work. There’s been times it wasn’t easy, and they’ve been there the whole time. They’re great.” It also meant that Wesley’s days of construction work were over. “Thank God I get to put the hammer down, at least for a while,” he says with a laugh. “It’s nice to be able to do what I love to do.”

Wesley hopes to do what he loves to do for a long time to come. “I want to be in it for the long haul,” he says. “I want to do those songs that everybody wants to hear, and that everybody can feel. I want to be the guy who tells the stories, and tells it like it is.”

Additional Wednesday events scheduled include a feeder calf show at 6 p.m., a pie sale at 6:45 p.m., and a market steer show at 7 p.m.


The Tyler County Belle Pageant, scheduled for 1 p.m., will highlight the afternoon events planned for Thursday. Senior citizens will be admitted free that day until 2 p.m.

A demolitions derby will be held in the track area at 7:30 p.m. Market lamb and sheep judging is set for 6 p.m. in the barn.

Marty Raybon will perform at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on the mainstage. The Davisson Brothers will entertain fairgoers at 9 p.m.

The Davisson Brothers Band has a unique style infusing a remarkable blend of country, southern rock, and bluegrass to create a distinctive sound captured in their first single, “Big City Hillbilly.” This sound, combined with the band’s talent and energy, has gained a loyal fan base all over the Eastern United States.

Brothers Chris and Donnie Davisson and cousin Sammy Davisson, along with childhood friend Aaron Regester, are continuing musical pursuits started by the Davisson family long ago. Aaron’s reliable drums and Sammy’s solid bass groove provide the perfect foundation for Donnie’s impassioned, soulful vocals with Sammy’s flawless harmonies all driven by Chris’s mind-bending blend of bluegrass, country, and blues guitar creating a sound unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

“Music has always been a part of our lives,” says Chris, “and now we’re living our dad’s and uncle’s dream-playing music around the country and hearing ourselves on the radio.”


Day four of the Tyler County Fair has been designated as Mountaineer Day, with themed activities planned throughout the day.

The hog call contest and Liar’s contest will be held at 11 a.m., followed by the nail-driving contest at 11:30 a.m. and the hay baling contest at 12 p.m.

Truck and tractor pulls will begin at 7 p.m. at the track. Weigh-in for the event will begin at 5:30 p.m. In the barn area, the market steer, hog, lamb and rabbit sale will be held at 7 p.m.

Mainstage action will begin at 7:30 p.m., with Chris Higbee.

Higbee grew up a farm boy with a musical curiosity and a diligent mother and father. That curiosity quickly became a passion that drives his dreams. The diligent father, “Frosty” Higbee, saw to it that practicing his fiddle kept high priority along the way.

He enjoys time with his family and dogs, golfing, scuba diving, hunting, riding quads, weight lifting and trying just about any extreme sport opportunity that arises.

Mark Vinsik, Jay McKnight, Larry Shotter, Les Philburn, Nick Strasser, and Troy Williams join Higbee on stage.

The LoCash Cowboys will follow at 9 p.m.

It was April of 2008, and the LoCash Cowboys were doing what they do best -rocking a packed house. They were at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon, where the two of them – Preston Brust and Chris Lucas – had met a few years earlier.The amped-up crowd was living, screaming proof that they had put the time since then to good use.

They had been criss-crossing the country, honing their craft on stages large and small, developing one of the most dynamic live shows in any genre of music. Along the way, they had sold more than 60,000 copies of their homemade CD, earned endorsements from the likes of Budweiser, shared bills with artists including Charlie Daniels and ZZ Top, performed at halftime of NBA and U.S. Olympic team basketball games, and earned television appearances ranging from Tanya Tucker’s reality show “Tuckerville” to “Pageant School: Becoming Miss America,” writing the theme songs for both.

They had also attracted their share of support from those in the industry who recognized just how much of the total package they had–great vocals, world-class dance moves, a unique look and charisma to burn, as well as a wealth of experience and a work ethic that impressed everyone who dealt with them.

On that warm spring night, the final piece of the puzzle would fall into place. Jeffrey Steele, one of Nashville’s biggest names in songwriting (“The Cowboy In Me,” “What Hurts The Most,” “My Town”) and producing (Montgomery Gentry, Keith Anderson) was working his way through the crowd.

“Everybody’s screaming and he can barely get to the stage,” says Preston. “He was almost crowd-surfing his way to the front. He grabbed hold of me in the middle of a song and yelled, ‘I get it! I want to work with you!’ It was a monumental moment.”

Steele, like so many others before and since, had caught the LoCash vision, and he signed on as songwriting partner and producer. After building and gathering strength for years, earning a growing legion of fans inside and outside the industry, the LoCash Cowboys saw their momentum become a perfect storm.

“We had a few great songs already,” adds Preston, “but writing 40 songs with Jeffrey amounted to honing the vision, defining who and what we are. We knew the whole time that this wasn’t just going to be 11 or 12 songs on a record. We knew it would be the debut of what the world will know as LoCash.”

That debut, called This Is How We Do It, is a fitting introduction to a compellingly charismatic duo, a well-rounded CD that captures all the excitement of their stage performance while displaying a softer, more philosophical side as well. The project’s first single, “You Got Me,” is the best of both worlds. Penned by Chris and Preston, it is, quite simply, a love song that rocks.

The core of the CD is a series of high-energy manifestos, songs that celebrate the unabashed fun of the LoCash lifestyle, the conviction that the best things in life are free or at least low-cash. Songs like “Fresh Off The Farm,” with its riff-laden punch and inventive harmonies, “Here Comes Summer,” with its free-wheeling look at beach season, “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y,” an ode to the joys of country life, “Get Down,” a bit of country rap, “She Goes Loco,” a name-dropping tour-de-force, and “This Town Needs A Parade,” which is as close to a recorded party as country music has ever seen, add up to a guided tour through LoCash territory. But then there are “Right Here In Front Of You,” a passionate expression of romantic love, and “Keep In Mind,” a parent’s loving farewell to a child venturing into the world, both vivid examples of the depth and tenderness lurking within the LoCash heart. To top it off, there is “Independent Trucker,” an uptempo country joyride that includes none other than George Jones, and “This Is How We Do It,” a title cut that ties it all together with a high-energy bow.

Chris grew up in Baltimore, developing a love for music that would ultimately span eras and styles, from Frank Sinatra to Justin Timberlake, with special emphasis on ’90s R&B and country. He learned break-dancing on the city’s streets and eventually taught others, but most of his time and attention as a teenager went to baseball and football. He says, “Sports is where I learned integrity and all the big lessons about character.”

Preston was born in Arkansas, but grew up in Kokomo, Ind., where his dad was a preacher – Preston sang a capella in church but had to sneak out to go dancing. He turned out to be a natural, and soon he was choreographing show choirs, ultimately winning a regional grand championship.


The final day of the fair will begin with the Truck Driver’s Rodeo at 10 a.m. Registration for the event will be held from 8-10 a.m.

The annual mud bog is set for noon, with registration at the mud-pit at 10 a.m.

Other Saturday activities include an archery contest at 10 a.m., a horseshoe pitching contest at 4 p.m., and a pony pull at 5 p.m.

Mainstage entertainment will start at 10 a.m. with a talent show. Three divisions will be showcased. For more information, contact Dawn Billiter at 304-758-2537 or Roger Billiter at 304-771-3247.

The evening’s musical entertainment will begin at 7:30 p.m. with Zach Paxton and John Pardndon, followed by headliner Chris Cagle at 9 p.m.

Ask Chris Cagle what’s most important to him and you can bet he’ll answer this way: “Family, ranch, music. That’s it.” This response is seemingly simple for a man whose professional credits include two gold albums, two No. 1 albums and 12 charted songs. From 2000-2008, Cagle released an almost nonstop catalog of hits that resulted in a scorching hot career. Cagle’s musical character and burning ambition never wavered but today, Cagle’s personal perspective has mellowed. 2012’s forthcoming album is, in more ways than one, a new lease on life.

Born in DeRidder, La., and raised “all over,” Chris set off for Nashville after trying his hand at college in Texas and finding the pull to pursue music too strong to ignore. Like many young artists, he spent several years working odd jobs in Nashville and scraping up enough cash to record four original songs for a demo tape. Thanks to a couple of chance meetings and the opportunity to be heard by Scott Hendricks, Chris was signed to Virgin Records in 2000 that first album featured the unaltered version of his demo songs. Chris quickly earned critical and commercial success and attracted a legion of fans that included industry heavyweights and country fans alike. Cagle’s first number one smash, “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out,” remains a fan favorite.

For Cagle, the professional success and sales were gratifying but his personal life blistered under the spotlight. “I was tired of who I was in this business,” Chris says. “I had become somebody who I didn’t want to be.” He bowed out and retreated to Marietta, Oklahoma, a place where he could distance himself from the industry, reconnect with his roots and take back control of his life. He spent the next couple of years staking his claim on home life and embracing a lifelong dream: building his family’s home, “Big Horse Ranch,” with his own two hands, nail by nail. What started out as a “piece of dirt,” is now an impressive Oklahoma homestead. Chris also met his wife Kay, who he describes in the song “Let There Be Cowgirls”: ‘Something you can’t tame/She’s a mustang/ The heartbeat of the heartland.’ “The worst days we’ve had together are better than the best I’ve had with other people,” Chris says. He also found a new identity as a father. On the birth of his daughter in 2010, Chris says “she made me want to be better at everything. Period. I’ve never cared enough about myself to take responsibility for my faults; she made me man right up.”

Cagle’s 2012 release from Bigger Picture Group is his homecoming a rekindling of his creative flame and a roaring reminder of his rock-infused country roots. It’s something he originated and what he does best: relatable, back-roads and familiar while also being a striking form of country music worth getting excited about. While assuring his fans that the Chris they love hasn’t changed, Cagle sees his new persona as a better version of himself. “I want my music to be an environment, to strike chords, passions, memories, faults, loves, angers and redemptions,” Chris says. “Imagine my music just on the outside of town right where the road turns to the rural route. A dirt road cul-de-sac with trucks all parked in a circle. I would love to see my music fit into that.”

This Chris Cagle may look a little different to those who are used to a louder, harder-partying version of the star. Rest assured, Chris still gets “as rowdy as a redneck can get,” but these days he confines himself to a smaller space the 40’x40′ stage. And when the show’s over, he puts on a different hat and heads back to hearth and home. It is there that Chris has found balance and a new passion. Today, his biggest off-stage thrill is training and raising cutting horses, and when he puts on his cowboy boots and favorite hat, it is because he’s living the true cowboy lifestyle, not because he’s putting on a show.

Cagle’s self-proclaimed version of “redneck rock ‘n roll,” has been firing people up for over a decade, and this time around, Chris is chomping at the bit for an energetic reintroduction to the country music community that’s been a long time coming. Fans will still see flashes of the Chris they know but they’ll also see the joy and confidence that home life provides him. “I’m happy. You’re gonna hear the smile through the radio,” Chris says of his new record. “For the first time since April 2001, I am truly happy to do it; I have a new lease on all of it.” Chris is back with all the energy of a newcomer and the wisdom of a veteran and the renewed passion is contagious. “I’m at a place in my life where I think about everyone I’m working with, especially the fans. I thank God that I’m in a place in my heart where I am grateful and aware. I am very, very, very lucky.”

Cagle still has a fire, but his passion is driven by not just music, but family and horses and a place he calls home. His fans will recognize the glow and appreciate the authenticity: “I’m a lot like charcoal. Once you light me up, I’m gonna burn hot for a long, long time, but if you pour water on me it takes a little effort to get me started again. Bigger Picture Group and my family have helped light that fire for me. So let’s throw some gasoline on it, light it up and watch it burn.”

The fair will close with a grand fireworks display immediately following the concert.

* * * *

Daily attractions include karaoke, daily performances by Magician Mario Manzini and the Great Lakes Timber Show, arts and crafts vendors, Bingo, carnival rides, commercial exhibits, a flea market, flower show, 4-H exhibits, horticulture displays, livestock exhibits, photography exhibits, poultry and rabbit exhibits and live remotes from Power Country 104 and Knights’ Radio WRSG 91.5.

Admission to the Tyler County Fair is $6 per person Monday through Thursday; $7 per person Friday and Saturday. Admission includes carnival rides. Season memberships are available and must be purchased before Midnight on Sunday, Aug. 5.

Camping is available the week of the fair for $50.

For more information, call 304-758-4932, 304-758-2349, or 304-758-2227; or visit www.tylercountyfair.org.