The fairest of all -- The stars align on State Fair grandstand

Reba McEntire appears Thursday at the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair.

For decades, the stars who performed in front of the grandstand during the Minnesota State Fair bore names such as Dan Patch, Barney Oldfield and Joie Chitwood.

Gradually, though, fair-goers discovered the joy of an evening concert by superstar musicians. Soon after that, the auto thrill shows, trotting horses and car races gradually became extinct — at least at the Minnesota State Fair.

Since then, the roll call of stars who have performed at the fair grandstand includes some of the biggest names in entertainment: Bob Hope, Loretta Lynn, Christina Aguilera, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.

The tradition continues when the fair opens today with a grandstand concert at 7:30 p.m. by country music star Reba McEntire — now billed simply as Reba. Opening the show will be Ronnie Dunn, formerly one-half of the country duo Brooks & Dunn.

Country music is a favorite at the grandstand. This year's lineup, though, runs the musical gamut from heavy metal to oldies to alternative rock.


Here's a look at what's coming up at the Minnesota State Fair grandstand:

• Thursday: Reba McEntire with Ronnie Dunn. Tickets: $55 and $45.

• Friday: Def Leppard, with Heart. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $41 to $61, only limited seating is still available.

• Saturday: Big Time Rush, with Days Difference, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35.

• Sunday: Carnival of Madness 2011, with Theory of a Deadman, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, My Darkest Days, Adelitas Way and Emphatic, 5 p.m. Tickets: $35 and $30.

• Monday: Happy Together Tour 2011, with the Turtles, the Association, the Grass Roots, the Buckinghams and Mark Lindsay, 8 p.m. Tickets: $18.

• Tuesday: Steely Dan, with Sam Yahel, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $55 and $45.

• Wednesday: Toby Keith, with Eric Church and JT Hodges, 7 p.m. Tickets: $59, $49 and $39, only limited seating is still available.


• Sept. 1: Marc Anthony, 8 p.m. Tickets: $60 and $50.

• Sept. 2: "A Prairie Home Companion," hosted by Garrison Keillor, 7:45 p.m. Tickets: $29 and $24.

• Sept. 3: Weezer, with Motion City Soundtrack, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35.

• Sept. 4: State Fair Amateur Talent Contest finals, 8 p.m. Free.

• Sept. 5: Train, Maroon 5, with Matt Nathanson, 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $47, $37.

Grandstand ticket prices do not include admission to the fair. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster at and (800) 745-3000.

There are also plenty of free concertsat the fair .Check out:

• The Bandshell Tonightstage, which features Morris Day & the Time today and Friday; Ricky Skaggs Saturday and Sunday; Don Felder Monday and Tuesday; The Midtown Men Aug. 31 and Sept. 1; Dr John & the Lower 911 Sept. 2-3, and Tapes 'n Tapes Sept. 4-5. Concerts at 8:30 p.m. each day.


• Heritage at Sundownstage, which features Rogue Valley today and Friday; The Twilight Hours Saturday and Sunday; The Barley Jacks with Brian Wicklund Monday and Tuesday; Deke Dickerson Aug. 31 and Sept. 1; Alison Scott Sept. 2-3, and White Iron Band Sept. 4-5. Concerts at 6:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. each day.

• Bazaar After Darkstage, which features the Belfast Cowboys today and Friday; Free and Easy Saturday and Sunday; Rubber Soul Monday and Tuesday; Ronn Easton's All Star Soul Revue Aug. 31 and Sept. 1; Boiled in Lead Sept. 2-3, and High & Mighty Sept. 4-5. Concerts at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. each day.


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