News Column

Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days music lineup broadens

June 27, 2014

By Vicki Hillhouse, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Wash.

June 27--WALLA WALLA -- Music lovers will want to tune in to the Walla Walla County Fair & Frontier Days this year.

A bigger Pepsi stage will bring bigger acts and more of them to the general admission crowds in August, Fair officials said.

The lineup, now solidified by the Fair board, includes rock band Blue Öyster Cult, country band Restless Heart and Tex-Mex act Little Joe y La Familia. Those performances will be anchored by three shows from Walla Walla country/rock act the FrogHollow Band.

For gate passes and Golden Circle tickets to the additional concerts visit the Fair office, email kelli@wallawallaf... or call 527-3247.

Local bands are also expected in performances throughout the Fair & Frontier Days, said board member and concert Director Sam Waldron. And, of course, the kickoff concert combination of The Charlie Daniels Band and The Marshall Tucker Band will continue as the headline act of the event. Ticket sales for those performances, however, are sold separate from general admission.

The expansion of national musical shows is an answer to longtime feedback from Fair-goers, Waldron said.

It also diversifies the performances.

"If you don't hear something you like early on, come Friday night or Saturday night or whenever, we've got you covered," he said.

The changes are also part of a broader movement to bring more people to the Fair by offering something new and different.

The cost to the Fair of the Thursday through Sunday musical performances combined totals more than cost of the headliner, Waldron said. But if more people come through the gates, it could pay off for a bigger, better Fair experience.

"It's all based on gate attendance," Waldron said. "I really hope people come out and look and see what we have because we have been listening."

As part of the change, general admission tickets will cost $3 more at a price of $10 for adults 14-64. Seniors 65 and older will pay $5, which is also the same price for kids 6 to 13. Those 5 and younger are free. Family passes for two adults and two children are $20.

Those prices will allow attendees to view any of musical performances aside from the headline act. All of those performers will play on the Pepsi Stage in the Midway after 9 p.m.

The FrogHollow Band will kick off the shows Thursday, Aug. 28. The FrogHollow Band will repeat performances Friday and Saturday. They'll be joined Friday by Restless Heart; and Saturday by Blue Öyster Cult. On Sunday, Little Joe y La Familia will close out the Fair.

Although general viewing is free to everyone, Reserve Golden Circle Seating is available. Tickets are an additional $15. A total of 200 tickets will be available for each performance.

Those reserved tickets will go on sale July 15. The gate passes and Golden Circle tickets can be purchased through the Fair ticket office An outdoor beverage area for adults with identification will be at the site.

In addition to music, each day at the Fair will feature a different concept for attracting crowds. A Show and Shine event is on the books, for instance. A Walk on the Wild Side for kids is also expected to be a major attraction for families.

But more music is a major feature that's been in demand from patrons for years, Waldron said.

Booking the acts, however, is a major feat in itself.

Starting the day after each Fair comes to a close, the board's concert director begins working on the lineup for the next season.

Waldron said the Fair & Frontier Days has long worked with booking agency Romeo Entertainment, which books acts from an array of genres. What many may not realize is the cost of bringing in musical acts.

Under a tiered system, the artists are paid from as little as $5,000-$10,000 up to half a million dollars for a single night from a mega act. Waldron said the Fair was lucky to only have to pay The Band Perry $25,000 when it performed in Walla Walla just a couple of years ago. That show had been booked just before the band exploded on the charts.

The expense is one piece in how the local Fair books acts. The other is timing and scheduling.

"Even if we did have a big checkbook, which we don't, the other thing it comes down to is routing, routing, routing," Waldron said.

The Walla Walla County Fair is sandwiched in with fairs from Blackfoot, Idaho, to Springfield, Ore. Artists in the region for performances in those communities are better bets for snagging in Walla Walla since they're already traveling. That Walla Walla has a midweek headline concert can sometimes be used as a bargaining chip. The midweek show gives artists on the road an opportunity to stop and make some money on what might otherwise be an unprofitable route between stops.

Furthermore, ticket prices here may be much cheaper than they would in some of the bigger communities where the artists might perform. A ticket of $25 or $40 here might cost $85 to $125 for the same show in Seattle, Waldron said.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at or 526-8321.


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Source: Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (WA)

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