By TOM LAVIS
A dazzling array of entertainment, midway attractions and hoopla has officials of the Cambria County Fair optimistic about drawing big crowds for the weeklong event.
The 115th edition of the fair begins Sunday with performances at 4 and 8 p.m. by country newcomers Little Big Town.
The group known for its four-part harmony exploded onto the country-music scene with the hit “Boondocks.’’
Entertainment will be featured each day of the fair, which runs through Sept. 9.
“We are working hard to draw as many as 80,000 people to the fair, like we once did,” said Ray Lenz, fair president.
“Numbers have been down, but the fair board increased the budget substantially for entertainment and we have some great bargains for our patrons.”
Lenz was referring to the all-inclusive daily admission of $8, which allows people to ride, see shows at the grandstand and park for one price.
Other performers include Jason Aldean, appearing at 4 and 8 p.m. Monday, and Darryl Worley, who will perform at 4 and 8 p.m. Sept. 9.
Entertainment chairman Darrell Jones of Ebensburg said ticket requests for Worley’s shows have come from as far as Austin, Texas.
“We will be welcoming about 100 members of his fan club for the concerts,” Jones said.
“People are finding it difficult to believe that for a single admission of $8, they can enjoy both shows.
“People can come early and place their lawn chairs on the track to ensure they have great seats.”
After being inspired by the events of the Sept. 11 attacks, Worley recorded “Have You Forgotten?” which received a Country Music Association nomination for single of the year.
He is touring in support of his new album, “Here and Now,” which is scheduled for release Sept. 19.
“Worley was here four years ago and he enjoyed his stay,” Jones said.
“He is a real down-home guy and the women just love him.”
Other grandstand shows include demolition derbies at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Sept. 8 and a truck pull at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“We also will bring back the rodeo this year,” Jones said.
“This is a great family show. Any person who has never seen bull riding will not want to miss this.”
The rodeo will come out of the chute at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Lenz said more emphasis has been placed on improving livestock exhibits.
“We also will have a petting zoo that will feature 30 to 40 baby animals that children can enjoy,” Lenz said.
He also said that children ages 6 to 15 of military personnel will be recognized during Operation Purple Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
The Cambria County Cooperative Extension in conjunction with county 4-H clubs will offer children free midway rides, a lunch, barn tours and an educational program.
Lenz said for those people not interested in seeing shows or riding the midway, a special walk- around price of $3 will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“People can come in, enjoy their hot sausage sandwich or other fair favorite and tour all the livestock,” he said.
“We have some people just not interested in climbing aboard carnival rides or seeing shows, and this is a good way for them to enjoy the fair at a less expensive price.”
On Sunday, Monday and Sept. 9, all rides will start at noon and on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sept. 8, all rides will start at 3 p.m.
Local groups The Masters and Steel City will perform at 6 p.m. Sept. 9.
By TOM LAVIS
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