POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2013:
Flavors for All
The fair offers something for everyone
It's hard to believe that summer is finally over (or so says the calendar, at least), but all of the signs are there: school is back in session, football season is underway, and perhaps one of the primary signifiers of the change of seasons, the Tulsa State Fair, is back yet again.
I know that the fair means different things for different people. At its core, the fair is about the livestock and 4-H events, and the rodeo is a centerpiece of the week, but being located in the city, the Tulsa State Fair tends to be more about entertainment for most of us. And it never fails to provide.
My main focus when picking my dates to attend usually involves which bands will be playing. And although the artists themselves change from year to year, the format has become easy to predict. No matter what you're looking for, from country to rock to pop to Christian to classic rock to soul or '80s nostalgia, it's just a matter of picking your nights wisely to get the most out of your fair admission.
Much like past years, there's plenty to pick from in 2013. Three stages of free music mean you can plan your trip around a concert or use it to relax between exhibits. You can find everything from local music to mainstream headliners this year. The only question is where to start?
As in past years, the biggest free concerts will be held on the Oklahoma Stage at the northwest end of the midway, next to Expo Pavilion, and will feature emerging, headlining, and retro artists.
Appropriately enough, this year's fair kicks off with a local flair, spotlighting Adley Stump, a Tulsa native and season two competitor on The Voice, taking to the Oklahoma Stage on Thursday night, September 26, with her pop inflected country. The modern country model stays in place going into the weekend with a pair of emerging artists, Randy Montana and Josh Thompson, sharing the bill to bring enough country to keep the guys occupied and enough "pretty boy" to keep the country girls happy.
The schedule starts heating up from there, bringing in rockers Sevendust on Saturday night and contemporary country headliner Lee Brice on Sunday night, still riding high off of radio hits like "Love Like Crazy," "A Woman Like You," "Love Like You," and "I Drive Your Truck."
If you've followed the State Fair over the past few years, you already know that Monday night is traditionally reserved for Christian music, and this year, organizers are bringing in one of the biggest artists of the past decade as Casting Crowns (normally headliners at Mabee Center or BOK) takes the stage. This is always a great night for families, or if you're not wanting to face a more raucous crowd.
Tuesday will be kid-oriented, as well, as Zendaya (of the Disney Channel's Shake It Up) delivers a night of pop for the 'tween set and leads into what should be another bursting-at-the-seams crowd on Wednesday, Oct. 2, as Jerrod Neimann returns to Tulsa after headlining Cain's Ballroom last year.
Thursday, Oct. 3 caters to the classic rock crowd as Kansas hits the stage, followed by a night of R&B and '80s nostalgia as Bel Biv Devoe headlines on Friday night. As has been par for the course, the Fair wraps up its final Saturday night with another big show by bringing in alt-rockers Chevelle. The biggest change in format is the fact that Smilin' Vic & the Soul Monkeys wrap up the Oklahoma Stage on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 6 at 2pm.
All concerts on the Oklahoma State are sponsored by River Spirit Casino this year and are free with your admission to the State Fair. Concerts begin at 8pm (except the final Sunday afternoon) to allow you to do some browsing before and after the show, so plan accordingly.
If you're looking for something more scaled back but every bit as raucous, find the Bud Light Tailgate Tent, located near the southwest corner of the midway. Set up in "Beer Garden" style and featuring a variety of local and regional talent, the Tailgate Tent allows you to check out some cool rock and country acts while relaxing and cutting loose with your friends.
The week kicks off with Kingsbury and Cover Me Badd providing rock and a selection of '90s cover tunes to party to on Sept. 26 and 27, respectively, with sets at 7pm and 9pm. On Saturday, Sept. 28, Lawton native and country singer Samantha Rose plays sets at 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm while Nicnos (from Oklahoma City) brings a high-energy indie rock to keep the weekend crowd partying on Sunday at 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm.
The second week offers a mix of rock and country with West 51, Empire, Lower 40, The Shannon Sharp Band, and Kirkland Field fill the bill from Monday, Sept. 30, through Friday night, Oct. 4 at 7pm and 9pm. Jason Young brings a heavy dose of Oklahoma country to the tent on Saturday at 5p, 7pm, and 9pm and The Blazer Band wraps things up with a set of blues-rock covers on Sunday, October 6, at 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm.
The International Beer Garden, located at the East end of the midway offers a selection of import beers and a more relaxing selection of tunes for adults looking to escape the chaos for a little bit. Ben Brock, Maggie McClure and Shane Henry kick off the week with shows at 7pm and 9pm Thursday thru Saturday and Henry playing an additional, early set on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 5pm.
Something Steel brings an on Sunday at 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm for the relaxed weekend crowd.
Once the new week hits, we're back to 7pm and 9pm shows with James Lambert bringing the country on Monday, Sept. 30; Tom Basler's "Dueling Pianos" on October 1-2; and the singer-songwriter pop of North Meets South on Thursday, Oct. 3 and Laura Leighe on Friday night, Oct. 4.
Local favorite Travis Kidd lights up the Garden on Saturday, October 5, with a mix of covers and country-rock originals on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm and Zach Svoboda takes his turn at winning over a growing Tulsa audience with sets at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm on Sunday, Oct. 6 to close out the week.
The Big Ticket
Of course, if you're looking for something else, this year's Tulsa State Fair has one more option for you. If you love country music and love the rodeo, the two go hand in hand over closing weekend as the PRCA Rodeo returns with its annual Rodeo and Concert series.
Tickets are $30 per night, but give you a chance to catch the rodeo and follow it with a rising country artist. Friday night, Oct. 4, Justin Moore plays after the rodeo wraps, spotlighting hits like "Small Town USA." Saturday night turns up the heat even more as Josh Abbott Band caps off the rodeo to what should be another full house. This is the slot that has seen Eli Young Band and Randy Rogers Band pack the pavilion over the past couple of years, so you can expect Josh Abbott and his crew to do the same this year and be playing the big halls by the spring.
Whatever your taste in music, The Tulsa State Fair has something to keep you happy this year. And there's the food, too. Just remember to arrive early and bring plenty of cash. The concerts may be free (except for the rodeo shows), but you know you can't escape without sampling a few of those delectable fair snacks.
Send all comments and feedback regarding Music to ghizer@urbantulsa.
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