for the Mail Tribune

for the Mail Tribune

CENTRAL POINT — Visitors to the Jackson County Fair this summer will find an entertainment smorgasbord as varied as the food and rides on the midway.

From classic rock and country to percussion, comedy and cartoon characters, headliners to take the stage at the 2009 Jackson County Fair, announced Monday, include Ozomatli, Grand Funk Railroad, Sawyer Brown with Bucky Covington, Jason Aldean, Bill Engvall and the Nickelodeon Concert Tour.

"We're really proud of the entertainment lineup this year," said Chris Borovansky, fair manager. "It's really quite a stretch for us, very multicultural."

The fair will be July 21-26 at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Exposition Park in Central Point.

Borovansky said this year's fair would include a tribute to the state's sesquicentennial and the history of county fairs.

"The first fair was held in 1859 and it's the 150th (anniversary) for Oregon, so we've been working with the Southern Oregon Historical Society to come up with a fun, interactive display," Borovansky said.

"You might see something like an iPhone next to an old rotary."

Other events include a time capsule burial and a video competition giving local kids a chance to document the importance of heritage and history.

Borovansky said fairgrounds officials hoped to keep attendance strong despite the lagging economy. Last year's numbers showed a half-percent increase in attendance from the year before, with some 150,000 attending the fair.

Three years ago, the fairgrounds struck out on its own, having been eliminated from Jackson County's general fund, which Borovansky called "a blessing in disguise."

"We were forced to ask ourselves some difficult questions that a lot of businesses have had to face in the past year," he said.

"We're stable and doing well but we recognize that we're a luxury so we need to be conscious of that and try to position ourselves as a value."

Tickets will be available at www.jcfairgrounds.com or www.lithiaamp.org beginning April 23.

Here's the lineup for entertainment in the Lithia Motors Amphitheater:

July 21 — Ozomatli, self-proclaimed "cultural mashers" out of Los Angeles, combine hip-hop, salsa, dance-hall music, samba, meringue, rhythm and blues funk and more. The show is free with fair admission, which costs $8. July 22 — Grand Funk Railroad, a classic rock band with 13 gold and 10 platinum records, brings several founding members and an array of musicians who have played with other groups in celebration of Grand Funk's 40th anniversary this year. Reserved tickets cost $25; lawn seating is $12. Ticket prices include fair admission. July 23 — Sawyer Brown is a country band out of Florida that launched a 23-year career by winning "Star Search." "American Idol" season five finalist Bucky Covington will open. Reserved tickets cost $25; lawn seating is $12. Ticket prices include fair admission. July 24 — Country rocker Jason Aldean was named top new male vocalist at the 2006 Academy of Country Music Awards. Reserved tickets cost $25; lawn seating is $12. Ticket prices include fair admission. July 25 — Comedian Bill Engvall is best known for his performances on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Tickets cost $30 for reserved seating and $20 for lawn seating and include fair admission. July 26 — The Nickelodeon Concert Tour, offered in conjunction with Charter Communications, will perform two stage shows and provide a chance to meet several of the network's popular cartoon characters, such as SpongeBob SquarePants. The show is $5, and fair admission is free that day.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.