REO Speedwagon and Aaron Watson

On Saturday, July 11, REO Speedwagon will take stage at the Madison County Fair. The following night Aaron Watson will perform.

MADISON — In a departure from past years, the concerts at the Madison County Fair and Rodeo this summer will feature a night of rock music and another of country music.

Organizers of the fair, which will run from July 7 to July 12 at the fairgrounds in Madison, announced Monday that rock band REO Speedwagon and country singer Aaron Watson would perform on successive nights.

The fair itself will run from Tuesday, July 7, through Sunday, July 12, and feature four nights of rodeo action, the two concerts, a carnival, 4-H and open-class shows and exhibits, numerous food vendors and other activities.

On Saturday, July 11, REO Speedwagon will take the stage around 8:30 p.m. The band is celebrating 50 years together, has sold more than 40 million records and has 13 Top 40 hits — including “Keep On Loving You” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” which both hit No. 1 on the charts.

Formed in 1967 and fronted by vocalist Kevin Cronin since 1972, REO Speedwagon has toured worldwide and helped jump-start the burgeoning rock movement in the Midwest. The band’s “Hi Infidelity” album, released in 1980, contained the hit singles “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It On the Run.” That landmark album spent 15 weeks in the No. 1 slot and has since earned the RIAA’s coveted 10X Diamond Award for surpassing sales of 10 million units in the United States.

Formed loosely in the late 1960s at college in Champaign, Illinois, REO (named after the precursor to the light truck) rode to gigs in station wagons, hopping from small gigs to even tinier gigs, just to get their name out.

Now, more than 50 years later, Cronin and bandmates Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards), Dave Amato (guitar) and Bryan Hitt (drums) are still electrifying audiences with other hits and fan-favorites such as “In Your Letter,” “Time For Me To Fly,” “Roll With The Changes” and “Take It On the Run.”

THE FOLLOWING night at the fair in Madison, trailblazing country star Aaron Watson will perform, also around 8:30. Watson built his career independently for the past 20 years before releasing “Red Bandana” in 2019, which was billed as “his most ambitious album yet” by Taste of Country. The 20 songs on the album have been hailed by The Boot as “a pure expression of his traditional country ethos.”

This follows Watson’s previous album, “Vaquero” — featuring “Outta Style,” which earned a BMI Millionaire award, and “The Underdog,” the first independent album in the history of country music to top the Billboard Country Albums chart.

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Want to learn more?

For more information, go to or the fair’s page on Facebook.

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