Fair brings more music than ever

URBANA — Three shows of country music and "redneck rock" acts will make for hot and loud July nights at the Champaign County Fair.

It's the most music ever programmed at the 162-year-old fair, said John Bell, a firefighter and music fan who serves as the secretary of the fair's board.

"We're in our fourth year of bringing bands. This is much bigger than the last couple of years," he said.

The fair lineup, which will be announced publicly later this morning:

— On July 18, "hillbilly rockers" Blackjack Billy will headline the Kick-Off Party.

Blackjack Billy is known for outlaw appeal. "They're a lot of fun," Bell said.

"You bring the drinks and I'll crank the tunes, get some hot sun," they sing in the YouTube hit "Booze Cruise."

— Country rockers Blackberry Smoke will take the stage July 24, along with popular Midwestern country rockers the Matt Poss Band.

Of Blackberry Smoke, Bell said: "Their music is featured on a lot of TV shows like 'Red Arrow' on the Outdoor Channel.'"

"They're very popular with the motorcycle crowd, a little piece of Dixie," he added.

— July 25 will feature 2011 "American Idol" winner and Nashville recording artist Scotty McCreery, with central Illinois native Gracia Harrison, who famously yodeled in "The Voice."

McCreery is known for "I Love You This Big," "See You Tonight" and "The Trouble with Girls," as well as a Christmas album.

Live music will also be heard at the Disabled American Veterans tent after the shows, Bell said.

Booking acts is getting harder and harder, he said.

"It was tough this year. We usually like to book up-and-coming groups, but they were all snatched up, on tour with people like Jason Aldean," Bell said. "Hopefully, booking three shows will help us make our mark."

All tickets go on sale on April 18. Prices range from $5 for the Kick-Off Party to $20.

3 for the show

Champaign County Fair concert tickets go on sale on April 18.

Headliners: Blackjack Billy (July 18), Blackberry Smoke (July 24), Scotty McCreery (July 25).

Prices: Range from $5 for the July 18 Kick-Off Party to $20.

How to order: Visit showclix.com online or call 1-888-71-TICKETS.

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