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OPINION - Value at the fair

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The concerts that we’re enjoying this week at the Wisconsin Valley Fair were booked about 8 months ago. When you schedule an up-and-coming act you really don’t know what’s going to happen between when the papers are signed and when the actual performance takes place. One band, Sick Puppies, had a member who landed in rehab. Another band, Lady Antebellum, had multiple number-1 songs and won a Grammy.

When a performer becomes a bigger name from signing-to-singing, it’s a great day for the fair. The concerts are a big attendance-driver for the fair, especially at night. These nights are win-wins for everyone. The fair sees a much bigger gate. Fair-goers get to see a big-name concert for $10 – which you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

The fair had one of those nights yesterday. Hunter Hayes has become a big up-and-comer over the last few months. He’s a 21-year-old country artist with big young-female following. And yesterday was one of the biggest attendance days in fair history – and it would have been bigger if it wasn’t for rain showers in the afternoon.

A few years ago I saw the price list for music performers who’d be on the road for the summer. The prices were shocking. Has-beens that haven’t had hits since the 1980s were getting $80,000 a show. Classic-rock bands who’s songs are still played on the radio were above $100,000. Back then the fair was looking for a target price of about $50,000 a show – and it was hard to find good value. Bottom-line: when you go to the fair, you’re seeing reasonably good talent at a reasonably low price. And when you get to see a rising star like Hunter Hayes, it makes for a special night.

Chris Conley
8.1.13