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Red Dirt stars Turnpike Troubadours headline Nebraska State Fair

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The Nebraska State Fair has announced their headline concert, as the kings of Red Dirt music Turnpike Troubadours have been added to the 2024 Nebraska Lottery Concert Series.

“Turnpike Troubadours are used to headlining major events and selling out arenas,” said Karli Schulz, Entertainment and Events Director. “We are thrilled they are coming to the Nebraska State Fair.”

Turnpike Troubadours, along with special guest Shane Smith and the Saints, will perform on Friday, Aug. 30, on the outdoor stage at the newly updated Anderson Field. The show features special Early Bird Pricing. Ticket prices for the show are $10 off regular price from on sale Friday, March 8, through March 22, meaning general admission tickets are $65 and pit tickets are $80 during that time.

A few years ago, it would have seemed far-fetched to think the band would be as popular as they are right now.

“I certainly hope that people realize that you can come back from a lot. Just because things look bad doesn’t mean that that’s the way it has to end,” said Evan Felker, frontman and chief songwriter.

After releasing five genre-defining albums and building a fiercely loyal fanbase, Turnpike Troubadours all but fell apart in 2019, taking a three-year hiatus to find clarity amidst the noise of a red-hot career. But after the break, something remarkable and even unprecedented happened: the band returned more popular than ever. Not to mention stronger. The proof is in the group’s sixth studio album, “A Cat in the Rain,” produced by three-time Grammy winner Shooter Jennings.

The band is back, and has created a special bond with their fans, a bond felt in the band’s songs and live performances. They’ve racked up 1.5 billion streams globally and are selling out arenas and headlining festivals.

“For fans to not be able to see us for a few years and yet still be so supportive after all that time, it’s amazing. It’s something to be grateful for,” said bassist RC Edwards. 

While Fair officials recognize not everyone may know who this band is, those who do are very passionate.

“We’ve heard from people who say this is their band – the one they will travel all over for,” said Jaime Parr, Nebraska State Fair Executive Director. “We are excited to see them bring their unique style to the Fair this year. It’s certainly a show filled with great anticipation.”

Opening the show will be special guest Shane Smith and the Saints, who like Turnpike Troubadours have sold out the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. The Saints have spent the past decade on tour, and have had an appearance on the television hit “Yellowstone,” where they debuted the song “Fire in the Ocean” with an onscreen performance.

For an independent band like Shane Smith and the Saints, the work is never done. “It’s like you can’t help but feel like you’ve paid your dues to get to a certain spot, but once you get there, you realize you’re just starting to touch the surface of the bigger picture,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, it still feels like we’re getting discovered. But maybe that’s what it’s all about.”

This is one of seven days of high-quality national touring acts in the Nebraska Lottery Series. Already announced shows include Christian stars Casting Crowns and Anne Wilson on Sunday, August 25, the Older Nebraskans Day concert featuring the Gatlin Brothers and Lorrie Morgan on Monday, August 26, country star Riley Green on Wednesday, August 28, Hispanic music legend Ramón Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte on Thursday, August 29, and the Saturday night, August 31, series-closing act, Yung Gravy with opening act Tayler Holder. Tickets for all shows are available at statefair.org

With the theme, All Roads Lead to Fun, the 2024 Nebraska State Fair is August 23-September 2 at Fonner Park in Grand Island. The fair has drawn more than 4 million visitors to its home in Grand Island since 2010. More information about agricultural events and competitions, carnival entertainment, and other musical performances is available at StateFair.org.

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