The down-home sounds of energetic, blazing bluegrass seem a fine fit for the down-home feel of the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair, which opens Friday at County Road 200 South in Garden City.

Stand-up bassist Andy Saurer sees the annual outdoor extravaganza as a perfect venue for his Wild Azalia Blue ensemble scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The group’s 90-minute set list will include standards such as “Nine-Pound Hammer,” “Old Joe Clark” and “Train 45.”

What’s the prime lure for Saurer, who has played at the fair off and on for years?

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“Free popcorn,” he said, highlighting a popular feature of the Farm Bureau’s attractions. “Actually, why do I keep coming back? Because the fair is just great fun, and we always have a good crowd.”

His group is among a varied collection of performers on tap, from musicians to magicians and dancers to demolition derby drivers. Organizers promise that there’s plenty planned between the pork burgers and the lemon shake-ups for the fair stretching through July 16.

“A lot of the groups such as the Columbus City Band and the Chordlighters (barbershop chorus) always generate people asking when they’re going to perform,” fair board member Becky Speaker said.

Magician Travis Easterling mentioned that probably his No. 1 request from fair crowds, sometimes numbering 100 or larger, is an illusionist’s staple: appearing to cut someone in half. His origami sword box maneuver slated for his show at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau Building should satisfy onlookers’ desire.

“Performing at the fair is like doing a Las Vegas-style stage show, only very close-up,” Easterling said. “And I rely on a lot of audience participation as well.

“In these settings, there’s no fancy lights or any real way to hide anything.”

The Columbus City Band will put its marches, light classical pieces and showtunes front and center at a concert at 7 p.m. Monday at the David Boll Theatre. Longtime trombonist Ted Sharpe sees a big reason why the volunteer group remains part of the fabric of the fair.

“The fair represents the whole community,” Sharpe said. “It encompasses everybody. And the Columbus City Band is a group for the whole community. So the fair represents a good place to live that out.”

4-H fair entertainment highlights

Grandstand

Friday

7 p.m.  — Lucas Oil Pro Pulling Series, truck and tractor

Saturday

7 p.m. — Demolition Derby.

Sunday

1 p.m. — Antique tractor pull.

Tuesday

7 p.m. — Truck drags.

Wednesday

7 p.m. — The Revival Road Quartet performing southern gospel.

July 14

7 p.m. — Mud Bog.

David Boll Theatre

Friday

7 p.m. — Night Owl Country Band.

Saturday

2 p.m. — Share the Fun 4-H Winners. Skits, musical numbers and novelty acts.

7 p.m. — Elvis impersonator Ron Hobbs.

Sunday

6 p.m. — Little Miss and Mister Contest.

Monday

7 p.m. — Columbus City Band presenting marches, show tunes and light classical.

Tuesday

7 p.m. — Chordlighters barbershop quartet.

8 p.m. — Singer/songwriter Derick Howard.

Wednesday

10 a.m. to noon — Adventure Day Carnival with games and prizes for kids.

Farm Bureau Building

Friday

7 to 8:30 p.m. — Ferguson Road

Saturday

5–7:30 p.m. Pedal Tractor Pull

7:30–9 p.m. Wild Azalia Blue

Sunday

1 p.m. — Jack and Jill program.

7 p.m. — Possum Glory Train Band

Monday

5:30–6:30 p.m. Seed-spitting contest

7 p.m. — Columbus Clogging Company

Wednesday

8 p.m. — Travis Easterling magic show

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.