Niemann and Atkins to headline 2018 Fair

Niemann and Atkins to headline 2018 Fair



Zakary Kriener

News Writer




The Winneshiek County Fair Board is happy to officially announce that country music stars Jerrod Niemann and Rodney Atkins will highlight the 2018 Winneshiek County Fair.

This year’s annual county fair will begin Tuesday, July 10, and continue through Saturday, July 14.

Niemann will highlight the Friday night Grandstand entertainment at 9 p.m. after opener The Last Ride with Tony Winkler gets the party started at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday night, Atkins will crank up the action at 9 p.m. following opener Walker McGuire, who will take the stage at 7:30 p.m.

“The Fair Board is very excited to continue to strive to bring quality music entertainment to our Fair,” said DeAnn Christopher, Winneshiek County Fair Board entertainment director. “We look forward to working with sponsors in the future to keep building on our success.”

The Last Ride/Winkler

Friday night opening act The Last Ride with Tony Winkler, is led by an Iowa native who now resides in Nashville, Tenn. Winkler is the founding member and lead singer of the country/rock band.

Coming from writing sessions and acoustic performances, the band has shared the stages with the likes of Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Lee Brice, Phil Vassar, Alan Jackson, and others.

As a songwriter, Winkler has penned songs for ESPN’s hit show College GameDay and the College Baseball World Series, Country Dance 2, and Country Dance All-Stars. 

Winkler is currently working on his solo album and writing with Silverado Recording Artists.

“I moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting, and most of the band stayed in Minnesota,” said Winkler. “We are still close friends and we still plays shows together, but I aspired to write and play as a solo (career), which meant moving to Nashville. I am excited to come back, and we love playing for (the Winneshiek County) fair!”

Jerrod Niemann

Platinum-certified No. 1 singer and songwriter Jerrod Niemann, who recently released his fourth studio album and his first for Curb Records entitled This Ride, will headline the Friday night entertainment in Decorah.

The Liberal, Kan., native has earned multiple award nominations from CMA, CMT, and the American Country Awards. He jumpstarted his Music City career by co-writing multiple songs for Garth Brooks, and he has released several of his own chart-topping hits, including “God Made a Woman,” “Drink to That All Night,” “Lover, Lover,” and “One More Drinkin’ Song.”

Walker McGuire

The Saturday night opener, Walker McGuire, is a new duo featuring an opposites-attract approach to their music from Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire. The sounds of the two young artists can best be described as fusing electrifying “brotherly” harmonies with a fresh new take on modern country.

Jordan – the “super country” guy, raised in Texas with a love for classics like Keith Whitley and Dan Seals – and Johnny – the quintessential “rootsy” guy, a Kansas City native schooled by left-of-center icons like Tom Petty and John Prine – discovered a yin-and-yang musical connection that fit together like puzzle pieces, and the duo Walker McGuire was born.

“If you put us in a room with 100 people and everybody listed the kind of music they grew up on, there’s no way you would put us together,” Jordan explained with a laugh. “It was one of those written-in-the-stars things you just can’t deny.”

Aside from the differences in taste, the duo even look like polar opposites – Jordan in an ever-present ball cap and cowboy boots and Johnny in his laid-back bohemian threads. However, their vocal blend has a chemistry that could melt steel, a match of crystal-clear and raspy tenors that recalls sibling-harmony greats.

Since solidifying its bond, Walker McGuire has set to work honing its sound on the road, building an under-the-radar fan base and playing close to 300 cross-country shows each year.

“We tell people, if you took Keith Whitley and Tom Petty and intersected them at Matchbox 20, that’s kind of what we’re going for,” Jordan added.

Far from a copycat act, though, Walker McGuire writes story songs with in a modern country style that is 100 percent its own – rooted in classic themes and sounds, but with an added touch of wit and sometimes flat-out comedy.

Rodney Atkins

Finishing off the Grandstand entertainment on Saturday night of the 2018 Winneshiek County Fair, Rodney Atkins will surely entertain the crowd.

Atkins is an award-winning country music singer and songwriter whose chart-topping hits include “Take a Back Road,” “It’s America,” “Cleaning This Gun (Come on in Boy),” “These Are My People,” “Watching You,” and “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows).”

Having recently surpassed 10 million units sold during his notable career, Atkins also landed six songs on Country Aircheck’s “Top 100 Songs of Our Decade,” including the No. 1 most-played song with his Platinum-certified hit “Watching You.”

He is currently recording his forthcoming fifth studio album via Curb Records, with new music expected in 2018.

Fair buttons

With full details on when and where 2018 Winneshiek County Fair buttons will be available set to be released at a later date, they will be for sale at the same cost as the previous year at $30 in advance and $35 during the Fair. 

For more information on the Winneshiek County fair, visit 


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