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The race is on for summer fun at Jackson County Fair

In 1859, the Jackson County Fair was the place for folks from around the region to share pies, jams, quilts, livestock, new inventions and ideas.

Today it’s a summer festival replete with carnival rides, dozens of vendors, food, exhibits, live music, a rodeo and more.

The biggest traditional attractions at the fair are the Junior Livestock Auction — a showcase of local 4-H and FFA youths and their market animal projects — as well as other competitive exhibits in which best entries can receive blue ribbons.

Look for landscaping, floral design, specimen blooms, container gardening and plants; black-and-white and color photography and digital art; displays of needlework, crafts, sewing, textiles, baking, preserving and decorating; and gems, minerals and jewelry.

The carnival provides a full range of family fun, including kiddie rides, family favorites and over-the-top twisters for adventurous thrill seekers. The midway offers games, prizes and concessions. Carnival ride wristbands are $30 in advance at Sherm’s Thunderbird and Food 4 Less, or $35 at the gate, while supplies last.

The free exhibits and entertainment include Walk on the Wild Side animal exhibit, a mechanical bull, Water Bubbles (large, inflatable water-walking balls), a petting zoo, Brad’s World Reptiles, The Fair Marketplace (where vendors offer everything from sunglasses to fudge), All-Alaskan Pig Racing, Pedal Pullers, Lego Robotic Competitions, and Annie the Clown.

Fair hours are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, July 11-14, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 15.

Fair admission is $12 for ages 13 and older, $6 for ages 62 to 74, and free for kids 12 and younger and seniors 75 and older. Advance tickets for ages 13 and older are $10 and can be purchased at Sherm’s Thunderbird, Food 4 Less and Bi-Mart stores. Fair admission is free Sunday.

Parking at the fair is free every day.

The fair’s headline acts — Scotty McCreery Wednesday; “American Idol Live! with In Real Life” Thursday; Trace Adkins Friday; and Jeff Foxworthy Saturday — perform at the Expo’s amphitheater. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $48 to $50 for standing room only; $25 to $60 for reserved seating; and $10 to $20 for lawn seating. A $25 season pass includes lawn seating for each of the four amphitheater concerts. Fair admission is included with purchase of any concert ticket. See attheexpo.com for tickets and details.

“American Idol” winner and country music singer McCreery saw his debut studio album, “Clear as Day,” become a platinum seller in 2011. The album includes hits “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls.” “See You Tonight,” from his 2013 album, became his first single to reach the Top 10 on Billboard’s country chart. His newest, “Seasons Change,” was released in March.

After a return to television this year, “American Idol” is on the road with its “American Idol Live!” 2018 tour. The show is an up-close and personal look at this season’s top seven finalists, along with “Boy Band” reality show winner In Real Life.

Nashville icon Adkins has been an industry favorite for more than two decades. He broke onto the national country music scene in 1996 with his album “Dreamin’ Out Loud.” He has at least 10 other studio albums to his credit, and he’s charted more than 20 singles on Billboard’s country chart, including “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” “Ladies Love Country Boys” and “You’re Gonna Miss This.”

Funny man Jeff Foxworthy, known for his “You might be a redneck” one-liners, is a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, a troupe made up of Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and Ron White. He has six comedy albums to his credit, and the first two were platinum sellers. In the mid-’90s, he hosted his own sit-com, “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.” From 1999 to 2009, he hosted a nationally syndicated radio show called “The Foxworthy Countdown.”

In addition to the big names playing the amphitheater, dozens of other artists will perform daily on the fair’s center stage, including hypnotist Richard Barker.

The sixth annual JCSA Ranch Rodeo kicks off at 11 a.m. Sunday at the fair. See three-man teams from Oregon and California compete in such events as calf-branding, roping and wild-cow milking.

Fair food — deep-fried curly fries and corn dogs — are among the favorites with kids during the Jackson County Fair. Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune