Fair opens this week with entertainment ranging from country to renaissance

The Linn County Fair is rolling back to the renaissance this year as knights battle each other and renaissance minstrel troupe Wolgemut entertain fairgoers.

The entertainment this year is centered on military families, said Fair Board Vice Chairman Joe Calderon. “We wanted to give as much appreciation to the military families as we could.”

Each day of entertainment has something to do with it, he said. Country music performers Lonestar, James Otto and Buddy Jewell have all performed overseas for soldiers. Otto, who was the Oregon Jamboree’s mystery performer earlier this year at Oregon State University, also served in the military.

Jewell has been working with Operation Homefront in his home town, Calderon said, and while here, he will work with Operation Homefront locally. Operation Homefront raises funds to assist families who have members serving in the military.

Jewell will lead a motorcycle rally starting at the Linn County Memorial Wall and traveling to the Scio memorial, the Canby memorial and the Benton County memorial before returning to Linn County. Proceeds will go to Operation Homefront.

Lonestar performs at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. Otto performs at 8:30 p.m. on Friday. Jewell performs at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. Kristy Lee Cook opens. Cook, who lived in Selma finished in the top seven of American Idol.

Saturday and Sunday, Wolgemut will perform shows with help from the Society for Creative Anachronisms.

Wolgemut’s musical inspiration comes from a variety of historical and traditional sources, including 12th century Latin songs of the Goliards, 13th century Spanish “cantigas,” 14th century Italian court dances, German “minnelied,” 16th century French dances and rollicking English country dances of the 17th century. Wolgemut also uses some traditional material from various European countries, such as folk songs and dances from Sweden, France, Germany and the Balkan countries. Original compositions written by and for the group may also be heard during a Wolgemut performance.

Wolgemut will select three winners for best renaissance costume. The best female costume winner will earn a $500 gift card to Albany Heritage Mall. The best youth costume earns a $200 gift card to the mall, and the best male costume winner will receive a $500 gift card to Cabela’s sporting goods store.

Sunday, the Knights of the Realm, a Brownsville-based group will compete in medieval games, including sword fights, knights on horseback, archery and ax throwing.

The group founder, Greg Hopla, worked for the people who established the first Medieval Times dinner theater, Calderon said. His group performs around the world.

Show times are 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The Knights of the Realm bring a historical context to the military theme, Calderon said, and Wolgemut fits their renaissance flavor.

Wolgemut is filling in for the rock music slot on the fair’s agenda this year, Calderon said. The group’s music includes rock ’n’ roll. Next year, the fair will feature to nights of rock music.

Elsewhere at the fair, children will have a variety of things to do, Calderon said, including a new feature, Alaskan racing pigs. Mother Goose and Animals are returning.

“We have a lot of emphasis this year on the daily stuff for kids besides 4-H,” Calderon said.

Admission to the Linn County Fair includes general admission to all shows, although reserved seating is still available for some shows.

Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12 and free for children under 6.

Fair hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Parking is $4.

Thursday, seniors attend for free, and everyone else may attend free until 3 p.m. Patrons may buy a carnival wristband and receive a second one free.

Admission is free until 3 p.m. on Friday.

Admission is free for people with military ID on Sunday.

Calderon is anticipating a 15-percent decline in attendance because that’s what’s happening everywhere else, he said, but he keeps hearing that the SCA-Wolgemut shows will draw bigger crowds.

“We’re happy and excited,” Calderon said. “We think it’s going to be a success.”