Ryan Chartrand

Stone Temple Pilots, Steely Dan, Toby Keith, Rod Stewart and John Mayer – no, this isn’t a list of current and future members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although that might hold true. These names are just a taste of the musical cornucopia that the 2008 California Mid-State Fair will be importing for its highly regarded concert series.

“Our fair is very unique in how much we focus on entertainment and how much we spend on the acts,” said Tom Keffury, director of marketing and sponsorships for the fair. “As the marquee event during the summer on the Central Coast, we take our fair very seriously, and we want to top it every year.”

The lineup for the Budweiser Concert Series this year looks to beat out even the stellar acts featured last year, which included the likes of Aerosmith, Godsmack, Bob Dylan, Leann Rimes and Stevie Nicks. Many of the shows last year quickly sold out – especially Aerosmith – and a majority of the acts this year look to do the same.

“To be able to get names like these to play in little ol’ Paso Robles is mind-blowing,” Keffury said. “I feel that the lineup this year is the best we’ve ever had from top to bottom; it features a diverse variety of artists to appeal to a broad range of demographics.”

The Budweiser Concert Series takes place during the fair, which runs from July 23 through Aug. 3, on two different stages, the Fort Frontier Stage and the Main Grandstand Stage. The Main Grandstand Stage features bigger-name performers, which requires purchasing separate tickets to attend, while concerts on the Fort Frontier Stage are free with admission.

The Main Grandstand Stage will feature country stars Toby Keith and Alan Jackson, rock legends Steely Dan and Rod Stewart, pop sensations John Mayer and Matchbox Twenty, and alternative rockers Stone Temple Pilots. The popular country band Sawyer Brown will also perform a concert following the Country Rodeo Finals on Aug. 2, and blues rocker Boz Scaggs will be the headliner for “An Evening of Music and Wine” on Aug. 1.

But the Fort Frontier Stage also has its fair share of big names to perform for fairgoers, including artists such as Grand Funk Railroad, Ozomatli, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, The Spinners, and Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet.

“While rock and country are our biggest sellers, we know that everyone on the lineup is going to be great,” Keffury said. “There’s a little bit of buzz being created about each of our shows, and that’s how we know that we’ve done a good job. We’ve been hearing from different people about the different bands we have coming.”

Those who remain on the Central Coast for the summer will be treated to a myriad of talent performed over a 12-day period. Those who’ve seen concerts at the fair in years past have expressed their enthusiasm for the quality promised at this year’s fair.

“I saw Steve Miller Band two years ago at the fair, and it was a great show because they didn’t leave anything out,” soil science senior Ted Richardson said. “To be able to get rock legends that are the likes of those guys again is really remarkable.”

“Stone Temple Pilots is going to be even better than Bob Dylan and Godsmack, who I saw at the fair last year,” physics senior Topher Matthews agreed. “People will be waving beers and lighters in the air instead of the canes they were waving at the Dylan concert. I think everyone will be having a lot more fun.”

A complete listing of the artists who will perform at the 2008 California Mid-State Fair can be found at midstatefair.com. Tickets for Steely Dan and Matchbox Twenty go on sale today at 10 a.m.

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