Preparations are well under way for this year's Nodaway County Fair, which takes place Thursday, July 18, through Saturday, July 20 on the courthouse square.
Of course, the fair actually begins a couple of days earlier than that with youth livestock shows Tuesday, July 16, and Wednesday, July 17, at the Maryville Community Building east of town adjoining the Northwest Missouri Regional Airport.
Livestock judging begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday with the poultry show. Swine, goats and sheep follow on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively.
4-H and FFA youth from throughout the region will show beef cattle at 10 a.m. on Thursday and dairy cattle later in the day.
Themed "Carnival Lights, County Nights," this year's fair comes to a climax on Saturday with the Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce-hosted parade, which will proceed east down Fourth Street from Northwest Missouri State University beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Concession booths and carnival attractions around the square open at 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
As for this year's entertainment line-up, the main stage downtown will feature area talent Friday, as finalists from the Texaco Country Showdown perform beginning at 7:30 p.m. Acts will include winners from the preliminary competition held June 22 at Mozingo Lake.
Budding country stars Blackjack Billy headline at 7:45 p.m. Saturday. The rock-flavored group, which also adds elements of blues, soul, rock and hip hop, has been touring throughout the South and Midwest, where they have shared stages with such bands as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Doobie Brothers, Lady Antebellum and Lo Cash Cowboys.
Blackjack Billy has sought to set itself apart from the large crowd of emerging country-rock bands with a show that includes not one but two lead singers: founding members Rob Blackledge and Noll Billings, who christened the group by combining elements of their last names.
Billings, a Missouri native from Kennett, and Blackledge, who grew up in Mississippi,
met in Nashville a couple of years ago and started writing songs together. After signing a publishing deal with Vandermont Music they added Jeff Coplan on guitar, Patrick Cornell on bass and Brad Cummings on drums.
Since meeting just over two years ago, Blackledge and Billings have written well over 50 songs and managed to blend two distinct styles — Billings' country-classics background merging with Blackledge's delta rock influence.
"It's kind of like Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC started a country band," Blackledge told one interviewer. "Above all else, you want to be unique, and I think we are unique.
"The first question we always get is 'what do ya’ll sound like?' My answer is we’re definitely country boys and absolutely love country music with a passion, but we also love rock and roll as well."
Page 2 of 2 - For a complete Nodaway County Fair schedule, go to www.nodcofair.org.