LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Concerts are back at the Kentucky State Fair this year, and organizers said they are looking forward to the return of live music.

The Texas Roadhouse Concert Series lineup includes performances from 23 artists, ranging from rock to Christian music, over the 11-day fair. All shows begin at 8 p.m. on a stage set up adjacent to the Pavilion and Kentucky Kingdom. The concert series is free with paid admission.

COVID-19 and the pandemic forced the Kentucky State Fair to be held without spectators in 2020. The fair was closed to the general public, which meant that only those participating in livestock, equestrian and other competitions were allowed in. There were no vendors or entertainers.

But 2021 will be different.

"At this particular point, we're looking at full capacity," said Kentucky Venues Pres. & CEO David Beck. "People are excited. They want to be involved."

The Oak Ridge Boys are back for their 46th straight year of performing at the fair.  The band made a surprise appearance at the 2020 World Championship Horse Show to sing the National Anthem last year to keep their streak going. They also performed "Elvira." 

Many of the acts performing are from Kentucky or have connections to the Commonwealth. The lineup is:

  • Thursday, Aug. 19: Josh Turner with special guests Alex Miller
  • Friday, Aug. 20: Ginuwine with special guest Color Me Badd
  • Saturday, Aug. 21: Colt Ford with special guest Elvie Shane
  • Sunday, Aug. 22: The Oak Ridge Boys with special guest T. Graham Brown
  • Monday, Aug. 23: Zach Williams with special guest CAIN
  • Tuesday, Aug. 24: Happy Together Tour 2021 (The Turtles, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, The Association, The Classics IV, The Vogues and The Cowsills)
  • Wednesday, Aug. 25: P.O.D. with special guest All good Things
  • Thursday, Aug. 26: Jackyl with special guest The Kentucky Headhunters
  • Friday, Aug. 27: White Reaper with special guests The Tommys
  • Saturday, Aug. 28: Jameson Rodgers with special guests Exile and J.D. Shelburne
  • Sunday, Aug. 29: Cory Ashbury with special guests We the Kingdom and Jordan Smith

Kentuckian Alex Miller, who recently appeared on American Idol, said he grew up watching fair concerts, and is is excited to now perform on that stage.

"Where I was sitting down there watching - and [now] getting up there and playing where those people played, that's awesome to me," Miller said.

Miller said he is glad to be playing in front of crowds again.

"That's what we do. We go out to people and sing and perform and play. Not being able to do that kind of takes your heart and soul out of it."

The Kentucky State Fair runs August 19-29. Tickets go on sale in July. For more information, go to KyStateFair.org

The fair features the World’s Championship Horse Show, exhibits, livestock, food, rides, entertainment and concerts included with admission.

With the fair still months away, organizers are planning for possible pandemic restrictions. The event will follow the recommendations of  state and local health officials. And fairgoers will be required to follow all Kentucky guidelines at the time of the event.

"We will not take any shortcuts," said Beck. "Whatever requirements are, that's what will be the goals here. That will be what we implement."

The fair is also expected to help invigorate Louisville's tourism industry even beyond the normal $15 million economic impact.

"It's just a significant shot in the arm from a morale standpoint more than anything," said Louisville Tourism Communications VP Stacey Yates. "It's just a significant milestone in that we're slowly getting back to business and a full recovery."

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.