Neal McCoy set to come to the Fair

This year’s Sedgwick County Fair will feature country music singer Neal McCoy.

By Travis Mounts

Country singer Neal McCoy will headline this year’s Sedgwick County Fair.

McCoy will perform on Friday, July 8. The date appeared on McCoy’s website in January and Sedgwick County Fair officials confirmed the appearance this week, although the contract still needs to be finalized.

“He came very highly recommended,” said Marti Johnson, a member of the Sedgwick County Fair Association board of directors and coordinator of the Fair’s marketing efforts. “We sought out various sources. He’s known for giving a very good show.”

Johnson said the Fair was looking for someone with high name recognition. McCoy, she said, was a good fit and had an available date. He lives in east Texas, about six to seven hours from Cheney, so the scheduling was relatively easy, Johnson said.

The Fair started with a list of 10-12 artists under consideration. Some were too pricey, approaching $50,000 for one show, while others were simply booked elsewhere.

McCoy has recorded 10 albums and released 34 country music singles. His breakthrough came in 1993 when he had back-to-back No. 1 country singles, “No Doubt About It” and “Wink.” He had three platinum albums and a gold album in the 1990s. More recently, he had a top 10 hit in 2005 with “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On.” In 2011, he recorded a big band jazz and country music special for public television with Les Brown, Jr.

McCoy was named the TNN/Music City News Country Awards entertainer of the year in 1998 and 1999. In 2005, he was presented the Academy of Country Music/Home Depot Humanitarian Award. He won the TNN/Music City News Country Award for video of the year in 1997 with “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.”

This will be the third consecutive year the Sedgwick County Fair has hosted a major concert. Tracy Lawrence performed last year, and Logan Mize put on a show in 2014. The concerts are a return to years gone by when the fair regularly hosted traveling music shows that featured the top stars and upcoming artists. June Carter (before she married Johnny Cash) performed in the 1950s.

The intent is to draw more people to the Fair, Johnson said, although the concerts need to make sense financially.

“Each year we’ve tweaked our model. Eventually, this thing has to make money,” she said. The Fair broke even on last year’s Tracy Lawrence concert.

Local musician Adam Capp and his band will be the opening act. They performed last year on the Open Air Stage. Capp is from Goddard and has a strong local following.

Johnson said the performances on the Open Air Stage can be a preview of acts at the arena. Turnback Creek, another south central Kansas band with area ties, played the Open Air Stage in 2014 before opening last year for Lawrence.

Ticket prices have not been set. They will be available later this year on the Sedgwick County Fair website,