Clay County Fair is the kind of fair other fairs wish they were: vast, organized parking; friendly volunteers; location out in the country; and great country music. The 2014 edition of the Clay County Fair, located on SR16 – six miles west of downtown Green Cove Springs – has a great lineup spotlighting the varying sounds of country music. So in between the deep-fried somethin’-somethin’ and the midway, make your to the Cattleman’s Arena for the 8 o’clock shows. (Actually get there at 7pm, great local music will be opening the shows).  Let’s take a look at the country music artists who’ll be performing:

Clay 1

Thomas Rhett (April 9)– Rhett is ahead of the curve in Nashville, where overnight success stories are normally 10+ years in the making. The 23 year-old already has a number hit to his credit (“It Goes Like This”), and has had a hand in writing other top 10 hits. His father, Rhett Akins, had a couple of hits in the mid-1990s, but has made his mark as one of the most successful songwriters of the past decade. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, Rhett’s debut album is loaded with hook-laden hits and his current hit, “Get Me Some of That” is the fastest moving song of the three previous releases. He is a dynamic performer, see him here so you can say “you saw him when.” Local favorite Stephen Carey will open the show. Get there early, he rocks.

41st Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards All-Star Jam

Ronnie Milsap (April 10) – Straight up, Milsap is one of the most talented singers in all of popular music history. Yes, that’s bold, but listen to him own R&B chestnuts like “Any Day Now” and “In the Still of the Night” or rock classics like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Milsap’s own country hits – too numerous to mention – are part of the fabric of the best of country music. If he only recorded “Smoky Mountain Rain” and stopped there, he would’ve been a legend. Milsap’s ease in and out of genres is equal only by his performance. Blind since infancy, Milsap doesn’t let it stop him from moving about the stage, entertainer crowds of all ages; a consummate performer.

Clay 3

The Swon Brothers (April 11) – You may remember these brothers from The Voice, where they finished third a couple of seasons ago. The brotherly (Zach and Colton) harmony is infectious, and their first single “Later On” is moving up the country charts. Success from the show has brought great crowds to their shows; they are fun and energetic in concert. Young local dynamo Rion Paige (from last season’s X Factor) will be part of the opening act.

Clay 4

Kellie Pickler (April 12) – She was first noticed early in the run of American Idol and sadly, many people think of her only as a celebrity and not a great singer. Possibly, turns on talk shows, her winning effort on Dancing with the Stars and her infamous guest appearance on “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” possibly add to the celebrity>singer stigma. The fact she hasn’t had a top 5 hit may add to it as well, but her last couple of releases should not go overlooked. Her 2012 album, 100 Proof, was chosen as the Country Album of the Year by Rolling Stone. She performed at the TownCenter in November to a huge crowd.