Music and more at Union Fair
Union — The 2014 Union Fair opens Saturday, Aug. 16, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 23, at the fairgrounds off Route 17. A real Maine agricultural fair, it also offers live music daily, mostly in the Entertainment Center; and a big Tribute to Maine Country Music concert Friday night, Aug. 22, on the grandstand stage.
The Union Fair Talent Show is back, after debuting last year, enticing local talent with a grand prize of $500. Preliminaries are set for Saturday, Aug. 16, at noon in the Entertainment Center; and the finals will begin Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m. on the grandstand; last year’s winner, young Daisy Lee, is performing earlier in the day, 3 p.m. in Sherman Park. Also on the fair’s opening day, Richard and Trisha Peck will perform folk music at 3 p.m. in Sherman Park; and the Dwayne Nickerson Band will rock the Entertainment Center from 7 to 9 p.m.
On Sunday, Aug. 17, Mark Adolphson will present gospel music at noon in Sherman Park; and the Frye Mountain Band will play 1 and 4 p.m. in the Entertainment Center.
On Monday, Aug. 18, Breakers Jazz, directed by Marlene Hall, takes the Entertainment Center stage at 1 and 4 p.m.
This year’s Featured Act in the Outdoor Arena is the Kent Family Magic Circus, Tuesday through Friday at 1 and 4 p.m.; and 2 p.m. the fair’s final day, Saturday, Aug. 23. Also on Tuesday, Ken and Jane Brooks with Fred “Tommy” Thompson will play country music at 1 and 4 p.m. in the Entertainment Center.
Primo Cubano, Maine’s popular Latin dance band, will play in the grandstand Wednesday, Aug. 20, from 7 p.m. until the fireworks begin at 9 p.m.
Maine country/bluegrass band New Relm will perform Thursday, Aug. 21, at 1 and 4 p.m. in the Entertainment Center. On Friday, Aug. 22, Bob Elston and the Road Rangers will set the country music tone at 1 and 4 p.m. in the Entertainment Center as a prelude to the big evening concert; and on the festival’s final day, Saturday, Aug. 23, “Lucky Bob” will present magic, juggling and more at 1 and 4 p.m. in the Entertainment Center.
Tribute to Maine Country Music
The Featured Entertainment concert on the grandstand stage Friday, Aug. 22, is sponsored by the New Country Bear radio stations and will begin at 7 p.m. with a salute to veterans and the “Star-Spangled Banner,” sung by Alexus Schaffer. House band for the evening is Family Traditions featuring Rodney, Dale and Kevin Overlock; Lisa Higgins; and Wayne Antone.
Debbie Myers, country music artist from Canada well-known to Maine music fans, and Midcoast pedal steel king Fred “Tommy” Thompson will perform songs together, and Thompson will serve up a couple of instrumental numbers, as well. Last year’s Talent Show winner Daisy Lee of Friendship will cover Patsy Cline and John Denver, followed by performances by Peter Allen, Chris Fyfe, Otto Proctor and Jay Smith.
After a break for the evening’s 50/50 raffle drawing, Nashville recording artists Perley Curtis and Erin Hay will take the stage for the remainder of the evening, backed up by Eugene Moles — Merle Haggard’s guitarist — on electric guitar, Jim Hartley on bass, Brian Ellis on drums, Jay Smith on fiddle, Harold Batchelder on acoustic guitar and Kelly Ellis on vocals.
Growing up in Maine, Curtis developed a love a pure, honest love for original, traditional country music and its legends including Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn. He picked a guitar at age 8 and played his first paying gig — an uncle’s wedding — at 9. In the years following, Curtis performed in bluegrass bands throughout New England, then moved to Nashville in 1988.
Since his move to Music City, the skilled singer/songwriter/instrumentalist has performed in bands of his own and also earned a reputation as a skilled dobro and steel guitarist, performing with such artists as Holly Dunn, Becky Hobbs, Johnny Paycheck, Connie Smith, The Reno Brothers, Del Reeves, Loretta Lynn and, most recently, Charlie Louvin. And then there is his own budding career as a recording artist. Curtis’ current CD, “Heartbreak Town,” showcases his no-frills vocal style and dobro expertise and is packed with tales of Americana.
Although a fairly new name on the country scene, Hay has already gathered many fans of traditional country, not only here but also in the United Kingdom and Europe. She attributes her love of traditional country to the likes of Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, and this is evident from some of the songs on her album "Honky Tonk Heaven." Her catchphrase is "If it's too country for everyone else, it's just right for me" and that sums up the type of music the California-born Hay loves to sing.
Daily admission is $12, $8 if purchased before noon weekdays and noon on the weekends, free for anyone who stands shorter than three feet. For the complete schedule of events, see the program online at knox.villagesoup.com or the fair’s website, unionfair.org. Daily updates can be found on the fair’s Facebook page.