It's fair time in Champaign County

URBANA — Two seems to be the operative number when it comes to the Champaign County Fair this year.

This year's fair, which starts today, will include two featured concerts, two demolition derbies and two rodeos.

Popular country and western singer Justin Moore, who was nominated as breakthrough artist of the year at the 2012 American Country Awards, will sing many of his hits in a concert at 7 p.m. July 25.

"We're going to have a good crowd to see Justin Moore," said Mike Kobel, county fair board president. "We really wanted to have him as part of our fair this year, and he was available for Thursday, so this year we'll have a Thursday night concert."

Moore's special guest will be country singer and "Survivor: Nicaragua" runner-up Chase Rice, who lost by a single vote to Jud "Fabio" Birza in the reality show's final tribal council in the fall of 2010.

Music lovers can also take in a free concert by singer Gracia Harrison, a former contestant on the NBC show "The Voice," during the fair.

Harrison, from Virden, Ill., will serve as a guest judge for the fair talent show on July 22 and will perform some of her hits following the show.

The fair will open tonight with the traditional metal crunching, hard-hitting demolition derby.

"Then on the second Friday of the fair — July 26 — we are going to have another demolition derby, one using compact cars," Moore said.

In addition to the traditional rodeo — including bareback bronco riding, bull riding and cowgirls barrel racing — on July 21, the fair will host a motorcycle rodeo on July 20.

Other fair highlights include a car and truck show and the Prairieland Monster Nationals monster truck event on July 20, a horse show and firefighter water ball competition on July 21, harness racing on July 23, motorcycling racing and the Dick Andrae Memorial Race on July 24, and championship truck and tractor pulls on July 27.

But Kobel says he believes the top attractions at the fair are the livestock exhibits.

"Folks seem to bring their kids out to look at the animals and see what agriculture is all about," Kobel said.

This year's fair will mark the return of the dairy goat show.

"We haven't done one of those for a long, long time," Kobel said.

If you are a carnival ride enthusiast, the fair will feature three "bracelet days," in which people can purchase a $20 bracelet for unlimited rides during a specified period of time. This year's bracelet days are July 21, July 23 and July 27.

Kobel said general admission to the fair is $5 at the gate for people age 13 and over. Children 12 and under accompanied by an adult 18 or older will be admitted for free.

On Sunday, families arriving before 4 p.m. will be admitted for $10 per carload.

For more information, call 367-8461 or go to the fair's website, http://www.champaigncountyfair.cc

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