By Siobhan Olson
Toe-tapping, heart-racing and fun-loving Grandstand Events are the hallmark of the Dixie Classic Fair, when it returns from October 4 to 13. All Grandstand events are free with paid gate admission to the Fair. All seats are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Grandstand entertainment kicks off on Friday, October 4, at 7:30PM with the Demolition Derby. This fan favorite is action-packed as cars smash ‘em and crash ‘em until only one car is left standing. If you miss it the first time, the Demolition Derby also takes place on Thursday, October 10, at 7:30PM.
Figure 8 Racing takes to the tracks on Saturday, October 5, at 7:30PM. Drivers maneuver their cars around tight curves at a breakneck pace in an attempt to avoid crashes and cross the finish line first. Figure 8 Racing also will take place on Friday, October 11, at 7:30PM.
The Rodeo returns to the Fair with some cattle roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and bronc riding. Don’t miss it on Sunday, October 6, at 1:00PM—it is a fun time for cowboys of any age. The Rodeo returns to help wrap up the Fair on Sunday, October 13, at 1PM.
The R&B techno funk sound of Midnight Star is back! Presented by WQMG-FM and performing in the Grandstand on Monday, October 7, at 7:30PM, the band formed at Kentucky State University in 1976 as a party band. When they signed with Solar Records, they produced a series of hit albums, including The Beginning, Standing Together, and Victory. The certified, double Platinum Plus album, No Parking on the Dance Floor, established Midnight Star as world-renowned songwriters, producers, and entertainers, pouring out streams of Top 10 and No. 1 hits. It began in 1983 with dance-floor smashes, like “Freak-a-Zoid,” “No Parking on the Dance Floor,” “Wet My Whistle,” and the lovers’ ballad of the mid-80s, “Slow Jam.” Planetary Invasion (1985) took them to No. 1 with “Operator” and “Curious.” In 1986, they struck gold with the chart-buster, “Midas Touch.” The year of 1988 rowed them to the top once again with the No. 1 “Don’t Rock the Boat” (which featured rapper Ecstasy of Whodini) and the top 10 “Snake in the Grass” from their self-titled CD. The band broke into the 90s with the smash “Do It (One More Time)” from their Work It Out CD. So, what can we expect from Midnight Star today? Vocalist Belinda Lipscomb shares, “We will hit the stage with the high energy performance that we are known for, remembering all the things that were so special about the group…letting everybody’s light shine.”
Big-name country entertainment, presented by 93.1 WPAW-FM The Wolf, takes the stage on Tuesday, October 8, at 7:30PM. Whether singing about untarnished love in the enduring hit “John Deere Green,” the perennial appeal of “Pickup Man,” or the heartbreak of dreams unrealized in “Ships That Don’t Come In,” GRAMMY® and CMA-winning country music legend, Joe Diffie, has continually painted a portrait of real life with all its joy and angst. A native of Tulsa, OK, Joe Diffie is a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 25 years. His first break came when Holly Dunn recorded “There Goes My Heart Again” and asked him to sing harmony. By 1990, he had signed with Epic Records and released his debut album, A Thousand Winding Roads. His first single, “Home,” hit No. 1. He continued to dominate the charts throughout the 90s with such hits as “New Way (To Light Up an Old Flame),” “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Is It Cold in Here,” “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” “So Help Me Girl,” “Bigger than the Beatles” and “Third Rock from the Sun.” This past spring, Joe Diffie released his first single in five years from Silverado Records with “I Got This.” The follow-up single, “Quit You,” is also available wherever digital music is sold and streamed.
A little inspiration hits the Grandstand on Wednesday, October 9, at 7:30PM, when “The Faith Tour,” featuring Jordan Feliz with I am They and Hanna Kerr, presented by WBFJ-FM, brings their wildly popular contemporary Christian rock sound to town. Jordan Feliz is a Billboard Chart-topping contemporary Christian pop singer and songwriter. He launched his career as a hard-touring heavy metal singer; then switched gears to become a church worship leader, before finally signing a Nashville record deal and making his mark as a songwriter and soulful R&B-groove-pop artist whose many hits have taken the top spot on the Christian AC Songs chart, Heatseekers chart, Christian Albums chart, Billboard’s Top Christian Album Chart and the Hot AC radio chart. His most beloved songs include “The River,” “Never Too Far Gone,” and the current single “Witness” that was a Top 10 song on Billboard’s Christian Airplay Chart.
He is joined by I Am They, the five-piece, pop-acoustic-worship sound that is anchored by three-part vocal harmonies. The group, made up of Abbie Parker (vocals/harmonium), Jon McConnell (vocals/guitar/keys), Matt Hein (vocals/guitar/mandolin), Justin Shinn (keys/banjo) and Sara Palmer (drums) represent I Am They – inspired by John 17.
Christian artist/songwriter Hannah Kerr’s current single “Split the Sea,” is on Christian radio now. Her most recent project, Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, brings a jazz-infused twist to classic Christmas songs and features two original songs co-written by Hannah. Her cover of “Winter Wonderland” earned over 6 million streams this holiday season. Her debut album, Overflow, has earned over 16 million streams which features “Warrior” and the Top 5 Hit co-written by Hannah and recorded by Matt Maher, “Your Love Defends Me.” She was awarded a “Most Played Song” award at the ASCAP Christian Awards in 2018 for her co-write with Matt Maher.
The Old Time Tractor Pulling Association (OTTPA) joins the Fair on Saturday, October 12, at 1PM, with high-octane intensity as tractors battle it out for the best “pull” in multiple categories. This is a contest among heavily customized tractors and other pulling machines to determine which machine can drag a weighted sled the farthest. Put in your earplugs and get ready for the smoke to fly as these machines demonstrate their power.
The perennially popular Gospelfest, sponsored by The Chronicle, also returns on both Sundays of the Fair, featuring the region’s best Gospel groups and singers. Gospelfest runs from 3:00-6:00PM at the Fredericks Chevy Clock Tower Stage.
New this year, Mariachi Los Galleros from Raleigh will perform throughout the fair. On Monday, October 11 at 3PM, 5PM, 7PM and 9PM, Winston-Salem’s J.O.T. (aka Grande Gato), CEO of Soul-Full Productions, will perform his popular hip-hop/rap/R&B renditions. Everyone is welcome on Monday evening for Hispanic Heritage Night sponsored by the Hispanic League and La Ley 101.1 FM.