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Clay County Fair hits high note again with its music lineup

By Don Coble
Posted 3/23/23

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Fans aren’t only returning to outside functions; they’re returning in record numbers.

The Clay County Agriculture Fair is expecting the same kind of response during its …

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Clay County Fair hits high note again with its music lineup


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Fans aren’t only returning to outside functions; they’re returning in record numbers.

The Clay County Agriculture Fair is expecting the same kind of response during its 11-day run, which starts on Thursday, March 30.

Music groups that struggled to find venues, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, are now able to demand higher fees in what’s become one of the biggest sellers’ markets in concert history.

But fair organizers worked their fiscal magic to create an eclectic lineup that starts on opening night with X Ambassadors and Charlotte Sands.

“Difficult is an understatement,” Fair Executive Director Tasha Hyder said. “The world is opening up after COVID. Bands that used to be available during our fair are now on tours.”

Much of this year’s lineup was based on feedback from fair-goers.

“We really do listen to feedback,” Hyder said. “People don’t think we do, but we really do. If you’re going to ask, you need to listen because they’re telling you what they want. We can’t always fulfill all the requests and make everyone happy, but we do try to try to listen the best we can.”

Hyder said that also means offering a variety of genres. She shifted from a country music-heavy showcase to acts that feature rap, rock, country and Christian music a few years ago.

“The lineup was very challenging, but we’re very proud of what we were able to come up with,” Hyder said.

General admission to all seven concerts is free with gate admission. However, VIP packages and reserved seating is available for purchase. Packages are at

Here’s what’s coming to Cattleman’s Arena this year:

X Ambassadors and Charlotte Sands. Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m.

X Ambassadors members currently include lead vocalist Sam Harris, keyboardist Casey Harris and drummer Adam Levin. Russ Flynn is a touring member that plays guitar and bass. Their most notable songs include “Jungle,” “Renegades,” and “Unsteady.”

They referenced Incubus and the Red Hot Chili Peppers as heroes. The band includes a lot of different eclectic sounds in their songs, such as jazz, alternative, trap and R&B.

When Charlotte Sands posted a TikTok at the beginning of COVID asking Yungblud to let her open for him on tour, she didn’t know it would happen. The blue-haired singer-songwriter found herself inspired by storytelling songwriters like Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow and Grace Potter.

Niko Moon and Cooper Alan. Friday, March 31, 7 p.m.

“Good Time” isn’t just Niko Moon’s best-selling song; it’s a way of life for Moon, an adventurous artist, writer and musician with an enduring optimism and a flair for challenging boundaries. That attitude is apparent in the EP, a judiciously layered synthesis of his Georgia roots, pairing Atlanta-bred hip-hop and rural-fed traditional country, two genres considered incompatible not long ago.

If you like country music and are on any social media app, you’ve probably seen Cooper Alan on your screen in the past two years. The up-and-coming country star has independently built a fanbase of more than 10 million followers and has earned over 200 million streams on his music. He spent his high school and college years playing bars, college campuses and Honky Tonks across the Carolinas.

Chris Janson and Shane Profitt. Saturday, April 1, 7 p.m.

Chris Janson is a proud member of the Grand Ole Opry and a multi-platinum songwriter and artist who is part of country music’s new breed. In touch with the lighter side of life with self-penned No. 1 hit, “Fix A Drink,” “Good Vibes” and the triple-platinum “Buy Me a Boat,” as well as the more thoughtful truths of “Done” and “Things You Can’t Live Without” and the CMA Song of the Year nominee and ACM Video of the Year “Drunk Girl.”

Shane Profitt’s musical catalog is filled with natural talent. Two years ago, he worked for the city an hour south of Nashville. Now he’s entertaining crowds at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

Now he has his own collection of hits, like “Guys Like Me,” “Better Off Fishin’” and “How It Oughta Be.”

Tracy Lawrence and the Cumberland Band. Sunday, April 2, 7 p.m.

Tracy Lawrence began performing at 15, and he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1990 to start his country music career. He signed to Atlantic Records Nashville in 1991 and debuted late that year with the album “Sticks and Stones.”

Five more studio albums, as well as a live album and a compilation album, followed throughout the 1990s and into 2000 on Atlantic before the label’s country division was closed in 2001.

Lawrence has released a total of 14 studio albums. His most commercially successful albums are “Alibis” and “Time Marches On,” certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. He has charted more than 40 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.

The Cumberland band is from North Florida, including lead guitarists Gabe Bullard from Middleburg.

“We’re going to try to do a pretty good job of blending newer country in some 90s country. That was kind of been one of our things. There aren’t too many people in town playing that 90s country,” said guitarist and singer Hunter Hays. “Our influences are kind of like the sound that we’re going for are Jason Aldean, Bradley Gilbert and Muscadine Bloodline. I’d say those are three pretty good influences that helped shape our sound.”

Casting Crowns with We Are the Messengers and Ben Fuller. Monday, April 3, 7 p.m.

Lead singer and songwriter Mark Hall began crafting songs about his own struggles, fears, and uncertainty, and an undeniable theme emerged.

“Desert Road,” a harmony-filled tune that plays like a Casting Crowns classic, speaks to those moments when God’s plan isn’t clear, but we’re still called to follow. It’s about the journey of getting past yourself and realizing God knows what He’s doing, that He’s already at the end of the road looking back on it.

We Are the Messengers have more than 400 million career streams, more than 2,5 billion airplay audience and a 14-week No. 1 billboard radio song, “Come What May.”

(For more on Casting Crowns, see story on page XX).

Ben Fuller grew up in Southern Vermont on his family’s dairy farm working beside his father. He passed the time by singing old classic country tunes as he witnessed the hard work and dedication it took to run a farm.

Ashley McBryde and Lily Rose. Tuesday, April 4, 7 p.m.

Two months after winning A Grammy Award for her duet with Carly Pearce called “Never Want to Be That Woman.”

McBryde’s musical style combines country with the genres of rock, bluegrass, country pop and country rock. Writer Mark Deming characterized McBryde as “a vocalist and songwriter with a touch of rock & roll swagger, a honky tonk heart, and a lyrical voice that puts a modern-day spin on classic country themes.”

Words like “groundbreaking” and “trailblazing” are often overused. But for country star Lily Rose, that may be an understatement.

The modern expression of country’s most treasured ideal – pure, unflinching honesty – her debut hit “Villain” revealed Rose as a talent, both 100% unique and utterly relatable. The Georgia native, whose inspirations range from Bruce Springsteen to Keith Urban and Katy Perry, Rose broke out in 2020 with “Villian.”

Her mix of personal lyricism and distinctive language meets the sonics of a post-genre fanbase as pure country sound merging with Hip-Hop and R&B.

Jimmy Fortune, Bradley Walker, Mike Rogers and Ben Isaacs

Wednesday, April 5, 2 p.m.

The chart-topping 1983 hit “Elizabeth” has always been one of the most beloved songs in the Statler Brothers’ extensive repertoire. Longtime Statler member Jimmy Fortune is reviving the song with three new musical partners – Bradley Walker, Mike Rogers and Ben Isaacs – for a new project, “Brotherly Love.”

It wasn’t hard for Fortune to get the other three on board.

The collection features the four artists serving up their renditions of country, pop and gospel standards. Fortune delivers a stellar version of Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” Rogers serves up a lively version of the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” hit “Man of Constant Sorrow,” and Isaacs wonderfully revive Don Williams’ hit “Lord, I Hope This Day is Good.”