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A Clint Black welcome

Country singer Clint Black welcomed the Northern Wisconsin State Fair crowd to his show in this July 2017 file photo. The fair is working on its 2018 grandstand lineup.

FILE PHOTO, The Herald

The 2018 Northern Wisconsin State Fair – set for July 11-15 – has announced its first two musical guests, but at least two more acts are on the way.

Country singer-songwriters Frankie Ballard and Chris Lane will entertain attendees during the five-day summer celebration on Wednesday, July 11 and Thursday, July 12, respectively. Ballard’s 2016 album “El Rio” was named one of Rolling Stone’s “25 Best Country Albums of the Year.” Lane, a North Carolina native, has toured with country stars like Dustin Lynch and Rascal Flatts, according to the singer’s website.

However, after five months of work, fair executive director Rusty Volk said he’s close to confirming two more musical acts for fairgoers: “We hope to have announcements soon … I think they’re going to be very well received.”

Though sometimes it’s hard to find country or rock “classic artists,” according to Volk, he ultimately looks for an act that’s family-friendly. He also tries to showcase an up-and-coming artist each year.

In previous years, the fair – held at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds on Chippewa Falls’ north side – has hosted musicians such as the Beach Boys, the Eli Young Band, Brett Eldredge and Eric Church. Since the fairgrounds’ debut of a new grandstand and stage in the summer of 2017, Chippewa Falls has the potential to bring in a variety of talent, Volk said.

“The fair industry depends, number one, on facilities and (who) you can book. We’re fortunate in Chippewa Falls that we have a new state and a seating area … We can attract the newer acts,” he said.

The new grandstand seating hasn’t only come in handy at the fair. In 2017, the Leinenkugel’s 150th Anniversary celebration and the Eau Claire Big Rig Truck Show both employed the new structures, which are accessible by handicapped audiences, Volk said.

As for the rest of the fair’s five-day run? Volk may have some tricks up his sleeve: “We’ve got some developing activities that will be really fun for everyone.”

Tickets start at $10 for one-day gate admission, with a $3-off promotion through Jan. 1. Individual tickets for Frankie Ballard and Chris Lane performances start at $20.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the 2018 Northern Wisconsin State Fair, visit www.nwsfa.com/.

Upcoming events at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds include the Chippewa Valley Cat Show from April 13-14, Springfest from April 27-29 and a Gun Show from May 4-6.

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Chippewa Herald reporter

Sarah Seifert reports for the Chippewa Herald. Contact her with tips or story ideas at 715-738-1608 or at sarah.seifert@lee.net.

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