It will be easy to think about summer this holiday weekend, especially with the temperatures soaring into the 90s. And one of the things summer always means to me is country music because northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan always seem to become the Nashville of the north with all the acts playing at area fairs and festivals.
This year is no different, and fans are going to have plenty of options --from longtime favorites to up-and-coming artists.
So let's take a look at some of this summer's shows (and just remember, the schedule can always change):
July 5-7, Country Concert: One of my favorite places to see a show is in Fort Loramie. This year's three-day festival has no shortage of star power. Thursday night, Eric Church will rock the campgrounds. Zac Brown will be there on Friday, and Saturday's show will close with Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton.
July 26, Lenawee County Fair: Justin Moore will bring along pal Josh Thompson for a show. Moore has a pair of No. 1 songs in his young career ("Small Town USA" and "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away"), while Thompson is always a party in concert.
July 30, Monroe County Fair: Billy Currington will have no shortage of hits to draw from for his set list, including "People Are Crazy" and "Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer."
Aug. 2-4, Smokin Country Concert: This festival in Bloomville returns for a second year, and it has a pretty impressive lineup for a fledgling event. Ronnie Dunn will be on stage Thursday night, Montgomery Gentry headlines Friday night, and one of my all-time favorites, Reba McEntire, will close the show Saturday.
Aug. 4, Wood County Fair: At one time, Gretchen Wilson was the biggest name in Nashville. Her debut album, "Here for the Party," sold more than 5 million albums, highlighted by her single "Redneck Woman."
Aug. 22, Aug. 26, Sandusky County Fair: When you think about power ballads, you think about Lonestar, who will be in concert in Fremont on Wednesday night of fair week. Richie McDonald has been reunited with the group, and he'll be belting out those amazing ballads "Amazed" and "I'm Already There." For longtime lovers of country music, they'll get to see Grand Ole Opry star Jeannie Seely, who will be playing on Aug. 26.
Aug. 25, Allen County Fair: Dierks Bentley has always been one of my favorites, ever since I saw him opening for George Strait. He's best known for "What Was I Thinkin'" and "Every Mile a Memory," but Bentley has a new album, "Home," that he'll be showing off in Lima.
Sept. 3, Fulton County Fair: It doesn't matter whether they have a hot single atop or if they are in a slump with radio, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry know how to put on a show.
Sept. 8, Williams County Fair: Kellie Pickler will be wrapping up the summer entertainment in the far northwest corner of the state. She may have seemed a little pop when she debuted with "Red High Heels" in 2006, but her current album, "100 Proof" is traditional to the core.
Brian Dugger's column on country music runs in The Blade the last Saturday of every month. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.
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