Big entertainment came to the small stage at the Clatsop County Fair on Thursday night, as spectators filled bleachers and set out chairs around the amphitheater to see country star Craig Morgan.
With more than 15 Country Billboard chart songs and previous sold-out tours, there was a high expectation of ticket sales. However, first year fairground General Manager Kathi Mattinen wasn’t worried about people missing out on the entertainment due to space. “We could put 10,000 people up on that hillside,” Mattinen said. “It’s a thank you to the community for supporting the bond.”
Clatsop County voters in May approved Measure 4-178, a local tax levy of 5 cents per $1,000 assessed value each year for five years for the county fairgrounds. The measure extended a previous tax for the fair, but at a lower rate.
The community seemed to welcome the gesture with open arms, as the crowd quickly filled the bleachers before the show began. Mattinen’s prediction was correct as fairgoers had no problem finding alternative seating on the grass, in folding chairs and even on fallen logs destined for Saturday’s logging show.
“We haven’t had headline entertainment like this in years,” said Linda Brim, of Astoria. “I hope they have more.”
Having a big name come to the local fair was a treat for country fans who didn’t need to travel far to see a show. “You get the whole staycation, you know everybody and it’s affordable,” said Cheryl Matson, of Astoria. Two weeks ago, Matson and her family traveled to Seattle and saw a sold-out country show at CenturyLink Field. On Thursday, she was able to sit 30 feet from Morgan and get up without worrying about losing her seat.
Many of the fans were ready to dance as Morgan and his band strummed up their first number. The set had dedicated fans on their feet and singing along. But the concert wasn’t only for devout country listeners.
“I always tell my kids, if you have a chance to see a legend do it,” said Astorian Lisa Bergerson. Out with friends, Bergerson admitted she wasn’t a huge country fan, but was still enjoying the evening. “It’s like a fun class reunion,” she laughed as her group waved down old friends throughout the show.