Stage committee books fair musicians

Published 4:29 am Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Perhaps one of the most enduring locations at the Washington Parish Fair Grounds is the main stage.

Located prominently in a naturally sloped area at the center of the fairgrounds, it has hosted performers ranging from local school choirs and dance companies, to some of the country’s top musical acts. The stage is a natural meeting place, as it is surrounded by seemingly endless rows of benches and a special section for fair-goers who prefer their own lawn chair.

In 1993, the old stage was demolished to make way for a modern venue that could accommodate the big name acts the fair is known for attracting. In 1994, the show went on with a temporary stage before the present-day stage was dedicated in 1995. Many visitors may not realize that the bricks that make up the walkway that surrounds the stage were bought to help with the new stage construction and bear the engraved names of many of Washington Parish’s families.

The stage offers state-of-the-art sound and lighting as well as dressing rooms and a kitchen area where headliners can sample the fair’s variety of foods (but that is the responsibility of an entire other committee). The seemingly continuous acts on the main stage do not happen by chance.

One of the hardest working committees of the fair association is the stage committee, and it takes the entire group to pull off four days and five nights of quality entertainment. Talent and acts aren’t booked in August and September, but require scheduling entertainment throughout the year.

Probably one of the most common questions asked about the fair is “who is performing?” To provide an answer is the result of negotiations and communication and going to “Plan B” when an act cannot be secured.

The stage committee is chaired by local dentist, Dr. Conrad P. “Chip” McVea. He has served on this committee for 31 years and also on the Lost and Found committee for one year. Some of Dr. Chip’s favorite fair memories are of Mr. Pigott announcing stage acts and Mr. Aubrey Gatewood broadcasting live on WFCG from the cage on the back of the old stage.

He believes that the best day of the fair is Thursday, as that is when the really big-name acts traditionally appear. Dr. Chip’s favorite food was Bowling Green’s chicken served in the big kitchen (now Sugar Shack).

The owner of McVea Dental Center, his wife Angela Stringfield McVea serves on the Education Committee. Their two sons, Jacob and Seth along with wife Mary, are regulars at the fair.

The 2018 Washington Parish Free Fair entertainment will be announced to the public on Aug. 15. Dr. Chip and his committee are gearing up for a fantastic fair and some awesome entertainment.