The open-date debate

Concert in Dorton Arena

Concert in Dorton Arena

Just before the July 4th holiday, we had everything prepared to release the concert lineup when we got back to work on Monday morning. But hours before our three-day vacation began, Assistant Fair Manager Mike Pleasant got a phone call from a booking agent telling him that the Zac Brown Band was pulling out of their date at the Fair…along with almost every other fair they had booked. No explanation was given.

So on Monday morning, before we could release the lineup, the press release, Web site and video had to be edited to omit the ZBB. We have an open offer on the table to keep ZBB at the Fair, but we don’t know at this point if it will be accepted. In the meantime, we are, indeed, searching for a replacement act in case ZBB does not work out.

A Twitter campaign was pushing for “American Idol” contestant Anoop Desai, but he’s still under contract with the television show, so he isn’t a possibility. Another popular suggestion is another American Idol, David Cook, but his ticket prices would be more than the $15 limit that we set earlier this year to keep all the concerts affordable.

It’s not easy to find popular, family-friendly and affordable acts. Country and contemporary Christian acts often fit this bill, but rock bands rarely fall into the affordable category. That makes it hard to have a more diverse lineup. So we’re continuing to search for another artist, and we’ll let you know as soon as we have a good fit lined up.

**********Want the ZBB at the Fair? Send them a Tweet or let them know via their Facebook page that you want them at the N.C. State Fair! After all, shouldn’t the “Chicken Fried” guys be part of our Deep Fried experience?**********

About Firecracker

Firecracker (aka Jen Kendrick) Appears as a guest blogger with a special 22-year history with the State Fair. She now works with the N.C. Pork Council, but she still lends a hand in the press office when she can. Thanks, Firecracker!


  1. Please have GARY ALLAN back this year. We traveled from Maryland to see Gary at the fair a few years ago. That was one of the best concerts we’ve gone to for Gary (we travel to several locations each year to see Gary). The sound at the Arena makes for a great concert too!!! Gary has two new songs he’s been playing on the road and one just hit radio called “TODAY”! He is working on a new CD due out some time this fall. Wouldn’t that be awesome to have Gary play the NC State Fair the same time his new CD is released?!! Thanks and take care!

  2. I understand it’s hard to book acts that fit your requirements, but when I saw the David Cook suggestions I was really excited that he might be a possibility. I went to one of David’s concerts this year & the tickets were $5.00. I went to others that cost $15.00 & $22.00, so I just assummed that the ticket price would fit. Anyway, can’t wait to see Kellie Pickler & Julianne Hough!

  3. Lila, David Cook’s price has gone up in the last few months. And since Dorton Arena only holds a little more than 5,000 people, it puts him out of our price range. We’re still checking out all of our options!

    Glad you’re excited about Kellie & Julianne though!

  4. Maybe you should consider Erin McCarley or Mat Kearney… he’s a Christian artist & they’re on tour together now. Ryan Star would also be a different choice. Ryan’s debut album is coming out in September so I’m sure he’ll be playing as many shows as possible during this time.

  5. What about Brave Combo from Denton Texas, they have played at the Texas State Fair, are a very unique and entertaining Band, should be family friendly, and within the price range and something other then Country or Cristian Pop.

    Lets face it, the last few years have left nothing at the fair unless you are a fan of Country or Cristian Pop. I understand your reasoning about it being family friendly, but come on, there are other styles of music out there that fit the bill and can be fun.

    This is without getting into the fact that the State is promoting Cristian Pop over other types of music.

  6. It doesn’t seem as if you’re really trying all *that* hard to diversify your bookings. It seems more like you’ve decided that only Christians attend the Fair and they’re the only constituency whose interests need to be considered. Last time I checked, the Great North State had many residents who are black, brown, yellow and white, Christian, Jew, Moslem, Hindu, and those who aren’t any religion at all. Surely there must be some artists out there who perform something other than Christian music. The Art Museum sure manages to find them.

  7. Chuck Wicks would be good but he’s playing Raleigh in August already. Chuck is a country artist, was on Dancing With The Stars and is the boyfriend of Julianne Hough. I’m kinda of jealous about that part though. How about Beach Music on Thursday night? We have lots of great groups around this area, get several of the local groups to perform. Then, dump some sand on the arena floor and everyone can shag dance as well. Doesn’t have to be a concert does it? Maybe a stage show of some type…add some variety. Of course, it goes without saying that I was highly thrilled to learn Julianne Hough will perform. I’m a big fan…she’s just such a nice person….and talented.

  8. You should consider Kate Voegele from One Tree Hill! She had a new album come out this summer & she would break away from all the country music… she’s more pop/rock/acoustic – LOVE HER!

  9. I second Erin McCarley… love her since I heard her song on Grey’s Anatomy!

  10. Suggestions:

    Whiskey Falls – They played the rodeo @ RBC this past Winter.

    Blackberry Smoke – A great Southern Rock Band

    Bomshel – They put on a good show

    I don’t know about pricing, but I think they would fit within your requirements.

  11. How about Julie Roberts?

    She’s originally from just over the state line in Lancaster, S.C.

  12. Aw man, I’m one of the people that requested David Cook. :[

    I second the Ryan Star suggestion! He is an AMAZING performer.

    How about Alex Band? (He used to be in The Calling…) He’s really great live too.

  13. Sounds like someone at CAA or their label thinks the boys are too big for their britches… hopefully they’ll reconsider and put on a FANTASTIC show here in Raleighwood πŸ˜€

  14. How about Hey Monday? I saw them play in Greensboro… they are great, different, & draw in a large crowd. Hey Monday would be GREAT!!!

  15. What about Marie Digby? Can’t wait for you guys to announce the October 22nd date!

  16. I suggest Luke Bryan!! He is awesome in concert and his new CD is scheduled to be released in October!!

  17. I second the request for Luke Bryan πŸ™‚ OR Keith Anderson is another good choice!

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